Protesting farmers enter Delhi; get invite for talks2 min read . Updated: 27 Nov 2020, 11:20 PM IST
The Central government on Friday allowed farmers from Punjab and Haryana to enter Delhi and hold a protest demonstration
The Central government on Friday allowed farmers from Punjab and Haryana to enter Delhi and hold a protest demonstration. Thousands of agitating farmers were permitted to hold a demonstration at the Nirankari ground in Delhi’s Burari area after they refused to turn back despite the police using tear gas and water cannons on them.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi government turned down a request from the police to turn stadiums into temporary jails to detain farmers.
The central government had to surrender to the will and resolve of farmers to enter Delhi and voice their demands, according to a statement released on Friday afternoon by the protesting farmer organizations. “Farmers have shown exemplary discipline and restraint by peacefully pushing ahead. Roads were dug up by the administration (to prevent entry into Delhi), but farmers filled up the ditches with their own hands," it said.
Protests by farmers have been gathering steam for the past few months ever since Parliament passed a set of laws ushering in market reforms. The laws allow traders and food companies to purchase directly from farmers, outside regulated wholesale markets, without paying any tax or fee.
Farmers fear that after leaving them to market forces and weakening regulated markets, the government will gradually scale down the purchase of rice and wheat at minimum support prices. The protests have been largely concentrated in Punjab and Haryana, where more than 90% of farmers depend on government purchase of crops.
“This situation has come about because our voices were not heard and our views were not taken into account while passing the laws," said the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions created to spearhead the Delhi protests.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the decision to allow farmers to enter Delhi and urged the Centre to hold “immediate talks to resolve the simmering issue".
For how long the farmers will stay put in Delhi depends on the Centre, said Avik Saha, secretary of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. “We would like to meet government representatives, but only if a formal agenda for the meeting is in place," Saha said. Farmers from Punjab met the agriculture and railways ministers on 13 November to discuss the new laws, but the meeting ended inconclusively. A meeting with farmer unions held in October, too, had ended abruptly. The Centre has extended another invitation for talks on 3 December.