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  India   All India  16 Feb 2024  Talks on over farmers’ protest

Talks on over farmers’ protest

Published : Feb 16, 2024, 2:03 am IST
Updated : Feb 16, 2024, 2:03 am IST

This was the third round of talks between the two sides

Security personnel stand guard as brickbats and stones lie on the roads at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march, near Patiala district, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (PTI)
 Security personnel stand guard as brickbats and stones lie on the roads at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border during farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march, near Patiala district, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (PTI)

New Delhi/Chandigarh: Three Union ministers held a third round of talks with the leaders of protesting farmer unions in Chandigarh on Thursday amid a standoff between the protesters and security personnel at two points on the Punjab-Haryana border. Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann also joined the meeting at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26 in Chandigarh.

Union agriculture and farmer welfare minister Arjun Munda, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai represented the Centre at the meeting over the farmer unions' various demands, including a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

The talks were underway till late at night.

This was the third round of talks between the two sides. The two previous rounds of dialogue on February 8 and 12 remained inconclusive.

Among the farmer leaders taking part in the meeting are SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have given a "Delhi Chalo" call to press the BJP-led Centre to accept their demands.

Farmers from Punjab began their march to the national capital on Tuesday, but were stopped by security personnel at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana.

The protesting farmers have been camping at the border points.

Earlier, the farmer leaders had said they would not make any fresh attempt to move towards Delhi till the meeting with the ministers was held, asserting that the next course of action would be decided on the basis of the Centre's proposals.

Amid the ongoing talks between the Centre and farmer’s union representatives, a political slugfest between the BJP and the Congress broke out over a video that went viral on social media, in which Mr Dallewal is purportedly heard talking about the need to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi's graph down.

The Congress, which has already extended support to the farmers’ agitation, said if any farmer displays his political leanings, he should not be considered an anti-national.

Congress leader Pawan Khera said, “Can't a farmer talk about his political leanings? In 2014, many used to say they wanted to defeat the Congress. We did not call them anti-national.”

In response, the BJP blamed the Congress for not implementing the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations. Former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had rejected the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations as not feasible by terming that its implementation would create havoc with the economy.”

The BJP did not directly attack the farmer leader for his comments but asserted that the PM’s popularity has been high for a long time due to his honesty, hard work and people's blessings.

Separately, farmers squatted on railway tracks at many places in Punjab over the Haryana Police's action against the "Delhi Chalo" protesters.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) and the BKU Dakaunda (Dhaner) gave the "rail roko" call.

The decision was taken in protest against the use of teargas shells and water cannons against the protesting farmers by the Haryana security personnel at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points.

Meanwhile, on the call of the SKM, farmers also staged demonstrations at several toll plazas in Punjab to protest against the Haryana police's action.

They also forced the toll authorities to let go of commuters without charging them a toll fee.

On Tuesday, farmers, mainly from Punjab, had clashed with the Haryana police at two border points between the states, facing teargas and water cannons as they tried to break the barricades blocking their march to the national capital.

On Thursday, no fresh face-off between farmers and the Haryana security personnel at the two Punjab and Haryana border points -- Shambhu and Khanauri -- was reported. The Haryana government, however, extended the ban on mobile internet and bulk SMS services in seven districts by two days till February 17.

Condemning the "method" adopted by farmers, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that they were attempting to march to Delhi like an army on the offensive.

“The Punjab government could have stopped farmers. If they did not stop, then there must be some understanding there and 'Delhi wale' say they are with the farmers' movement,” Mr Khattar said, in an apparent reference to the Aam Aadmi Party.

He said the farmers are moving with tractor-trolleys, earthmovers and ration for a year -- just like an army. We are not against them but have objections to their method," Mr Khattar said.

In Delhi, strict vigil, heavy deployment of personnel and multi-layer barricades remained in place even as the two key border points between Delhi and Haryana remained closed for traffic. The security personnel in anti-riot gear conducted drills and mock exercises to ensure their foolproof preparation.

To combat any untoward incident, the Delhi police has ordered more than 30,000 teargas shells from the Border Security Force's (BSF) tear smoke unit.

The police and paramilitary personnel kept a tight vigil on the activities at the borders of the national capital. Due to the closure of the border points, the locals faced traffic congestion at several places.

The Gautam Buddh Nagar police on Thursday imposed restrictions under CrPC Section 144, including a ban on unauthorised public assemblies, that would be enforced across the district in view of the "Gramin Bharat Bandh" called by farmers' unions on Friday.


Tags: farmers protest, piyush goyal, bhagwant mann, arjun munda
Location: India, Delhi