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The committee is expected to hold a dialogue with farmers and submit its report within two months (Reuters)
The committee is expected to hold a dialogue with farmers and submit its report within two months (Reuters)

SC committee member opts out of mediation with farmers

  • Bhupinder Singh Mann, national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said he cannot compromise the interest of farmers and that of Punjab.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the four members of the Supreme Court-appointed panel to hold a dialogue with protesting farmers over the three contentious farm laws, recused himself on Thursday.

“In view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions among the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as not to compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country," Mann, national president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, said.

“I am recusing myself from the committee, and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab," he said.

On Tuesday, the apex court constituted the committee after staying the implementation of the farm laws. The committee is expected to hold a dialogue with farmers and submit its report within two months.

Even before the committee was constituted, protesting farm unions had made it clear that they will not appear before any committee and will only negotiate with the government on their demand for a repeal of the farm laws. The constitution of the committee met with widespread criticism as all members had publicly expressed their support to the farm laws.

The other three members of the committee are economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi, and Anil Ghanwat, president of the Shetkari Sanghatana, a farmers’ group from Maharashtra. The Supreme Court stayed the farm laws after eight rounds of negotiations with the government failed to resolve the deadlock. The next meeting between the farmer unions and the government is scheduled on 15 January.

Meanwhile, the scheduled tractor march to Delhi on Republic Day (26 January) has emerged as a concern for both the government and farm unions. According to ground reports, farmers from Punjab and Haryana are preparing themselves by replacing existing engines in tractors with higher horsepower ones while some are attaching cranes to tractors in anticipation that they will have to breach barricades erected on the Delhi-Haryana border to enter the national capital.

On Thursday, Balbir Singh Rajewal, a veteran farmer leader from Punjab, appealed to farmers at Delhi’s borders to continue with peaceful protests. “The success of the movement depends on the protests remaining peaceful and any violence will end this struggle," Rajewal told farmers. He also said that farmers will parade with their tractors in areas adjoining Delhi’s border and a detailed plan will be shared next week.

“We do not plan to disrupt the Republic Day parade and it would be wise on the part of the government to allow us a passage into Delhi for a few hours. That would help avoid any untoward incident," said another farmer leader who did not want to be named.

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