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Talks with Centre inconclusive, farmers to go ahead with Delhi Chalo march



New Delhi: Ahead of the farmers’ protest in Delhi on Tuesday, the Centre on Monday held talks with farmer leaders in Chandigarh in a bid to dissuade them from their “Delhi Chalo” march. However, the five-hour long talks remained inconclusive, with the farmers deciding to go ahead with their march.

The Centre is learnt to have agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation.

However, sources said, farmer leaders were adamant on a legal guarantee to minimum support price for crops, which is one of their key demands.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha along with more than 200 farmers’ unions have announced that farmers would head to Delhi on Tuesday to press the Centre to accept their demands.

Food and consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal and agriculture minister Arjun Munda held the second round of talks with the farmer leaders at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26.

The “Delhi Chalo” call has been given by SKM (Non-Political), a splinter group of the original SKM, and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) clarified that it did not give the call for Tuesday’s march but strongly condemned the Centre’s handling of the protest, alleging that an atmosphere of terror is being created to frighten people.
SKM along with the central trade unions (CTUs) has, however, given a call for nationwide strike and rural bandh on February 16.
SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher, among others, were part of the meeting, which began at around 6.30 pm.

Earlier while the meeting was going on, Ranjeet Singh Raju, a farmer leader who came out of the meeting briefly, said that no consensus was reached as yet. “There is nothing to say. The meeting is on. All major points, including MSP on all crops and debt waiver of farmers, were being discussed. But there was no final decision yet.

Besides a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), the farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstate the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdraw from the World Trade Organisation, compensation for families of farmers died during the previous agitation, among others.

During the meeting, the delegation of the Centre is learnt to have agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation against the now-repealed farm laws. The Union ministers are also believed to have agreed to give compensation to any left out families of farmers who died during the previous agitation.

In view of the planned march, authorities in Haryana and Delhi fortified borders with the neighbouring states at many places. Barricades were installed, prohibitory orders imposed and thousands of police personnel have been deployed. Further, the Delhi police has imposed Section 144 for a month in the view of intended widespread tension and “social unrest”.

Social media platform X, meanwhile, suspended accounts of four farmer leaders — Surjit Phool, Tejveer, Raman Mann and Sarvan Pandher.
Bracing for the agitation, the police fortified Delhi’s border with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana with barricades and by deploying more than 5,000 security personnel. Traffic restrictions have also been put in place. From putting up multiple security barricades to erecting nails on roads, police are leaving no stone unturned to block the protesters, they have also formed several teams to keep strict vigil on bus stands, metro stations, railway stations to ensure that farmers do not enter the city using any other mode of conveyance.



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