Farmer leaders, protesting for the past 13 days by laying siege to Delhi with alrge contingents, rejected the proposed amendments to the controversial farm laws sent to them by the government calling them “an insult to the farmers of the country”.

The decision to reject the proposed changes was taken unanimously at a meeting of key leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the coalition of 500 farmer organisations spreading the agitation. As of now, another round of talks between the farmers and the government is scheduled for Thursday.

Seven changes

The seven proposed changes — including five amendments to the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 — were also among the solutions offered by the Ministerial Committee, which met farmer representatives for two rounds of talks last week.

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Following the Bharat bandh of Tuesday, Home Minister Amit Shah called the farmer leaders for yet another round of talks, which lasted for over four hours late into Tuesday night. As the farmers remained firm on their demand of repeal of the three Acts, Shah said the proposed amendments would be sent to them in writing for their consideration. The farmers agreed to this proposal.

The proposed changes included allowing States to impose taxes/fees in private trade areas to maintain parity with regulated APMC markets, permitting States to frame rules to register private traders as against allowing anyone with PAN card or Aadhaar to buy produce at farmgate, and making it possible for farmers to approach civil courts to settle disputes.

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The Centre also promised to give farmers a written assurance on continuing the MSP procurement regime, not tinkering with the current Electricity Act and addressing farmers’ concerns on stubble burning.

“On the face of it, the government is acting very friendly with farmers, but at their back it is unleashing a nasty social media campaign against farmers in all languages so that people lose the sympathy they have for farmers. They seem to think that they may be able to wear the farmers out,” said a farmer leader.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha has decided to intensify the agitation in the coming days. On December 12, it plans to crowd toll plazas and allow vehicles to pass without collection of toll.

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It has given a call to farmers across North India to march to Delhi on December 14 to put more pressure on the government. On that day, farmers in the South and elsewhere would stage protests at district headquarters. The farmers also said they would boycott Jio Services and malls and products owned by Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.

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