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Farmers not enthused by apex court intervention

Our Bureau/PTI New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2021

Unions indicate agitation will continue, want the Govt, not court, to find a more permanent solution

Leaders of the farmers’ movement were guarded in their response to the Supreme Court’s indication of staying the three contentious farm laws and underlined that the agitation will continue till the laws are repealed. While welcoming the SC’s intervention they reiterated that their demands should be addressed by the government and not the apex court and said that a stay is not a permanent solution.

“While all organisations express great respect for the Hon'ble Supreme Court for its understanding of the problem and comforting words expressed during the hearing today and welcome the suggestion by the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the farm laws, they are collectively and individually not willing to participate in any proceedings before a committee appointed by the court,” said a statement issued by the Kisan Morcha.

“We welcome the Supreme Court observation, but ending the protest is not an option. Any stay is only for a fixed period of time... till the issue is taken up by the Court again,” Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chaduni said. The farmers want the laws to be repealed completely. The protest will continue, Chanduni told PTI.

In recorded messages that were carefully circulated after it transpired that the apex court will pass an order on Tuesday, leaders of the Kisan Ekta Morcha — Surjeet Singh Phool, Ravneet Brar and Balkaran Singh Brar — stressed that their demands were specifically addressed to the Government and they were not the ones who sought a solution from the court. The Kisan Morcha added that it will bow to any “punishment or order” that the apex court passes on the issue.

“In our last meeting with the Central Ministers on January 8, the Government told us very clearly that they will not repeal the laws and gave us no guarantee on the issue of the MSP. They simultaneous gave us two options — go to the Supreme Court or form a discussion group. But these laws were not made by the Supreme Court nor have we gone to the court or made any demands from the court. These laws were brought by the Government through ordinances and then pushed it through Parliament. We will, of course, bow to any punishment or order that the Supreme Court unilaterally passes on this matter. We are also not interested in forming any discussion group. What for? If the Government accepts our democratically voiced demand, we will all go home. We are not interested in sitting here,” said Surjeet Singh Phool of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) which is part of the Kisan Ekta Morcha.

Future action plan

According to Balkaran Singh Brar, also of the Kisan Ekta Morcha, the farmers are peacefully protesting against three central laws and will go back when these laws are repealed. Brar gave an outline of the farmers’ future action plan including burning copies of the three central legislations on the festival of Lohri on January 13 and hold a peaceful Republic Day parade on January 26.

Congress, Akali Dal walkout

Meanwhile, pandemonium erupted during a meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Agriculture where the Opposition demanded a discussion on the farmers’ protest.

The Opposition members walked out as Chairman Parvatagouda Chandanagouda Gaddigoudar told them that he will not be able to take up such a discussion as Parliament had already passed the three farm laws.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa staged a walkout from the meeting, along with Congress MPs Partap Singh Bajwa, and Chhaya Verma. The agenda of the meeting was to examine the status of veterinary services and availability of animal vaccines.

The meeting continued after the walkout of MPs and it is understood to have discussed the situation of spreading cases of bird flu. The members urged the Centre to take necessary action to check the spread of the disease.

Later, Bajwa said the farm unions have been demanding a repeal of the three laws but the Centre was not interested in ending the protests. Welcoming the Supreme Court's proposal, he urged the Centre to repeal the Acts.

“This is an opportunity for the Centre to work with all stakeholders such as farmer unions, MPs, agricultural scientists and all those affected by the laws and create a proper roadmap for a full-fledged agricultural revolution. By clinging on to a false hope of maintaining some prestige, the Centre has forced farmers from across the nation to sit on the roads leading to Delhi during peak winter. Eight rounds of discussions have failed till date to create a breakthrough that would allow the elderly, families, children and others to return to their homes,” he said.

He said this is the last chance for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and said the Parliament should have been given enough time to further deliberate on the proposed reforms in agriculture sector.

“It was my hope that the Government would act before being forced to do so by the Supreme Court. The government can still end these protests tomorrow if they repeal these laws. Sometimes the simplest solution is almost always the best solution,” he added.

Published on January 11, 2021

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