Farmers call Bharat bandh on Dec 8, threaten to intensify agitation
New Delhi: Upping the ante, farmers protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws on Friday announced a Bharat bandh on December 8 and threatened to intensify their agitation and block more roads leading to the national capital if the Government does not accept their demands.
This hardening of stand came a day ahead of the fifth round of talks with the Government.
According to sources, the Government has worked out possible solutions to the provisions on which the farmer leaders have raised objections in a bid to break the deadlock.
Farmer leaders held a meeting during the day to decide the future course of action. Addressing a press conference later, one of the leaders Gurnam Singh Chadoni said if the Centre on Saturday does not accept their demand of repealing the three farm laws, they will intensify their agitation.
“In our meeting today, we have decided to give a Bharat bandh call on December 8 during which we will also occupy all toll plazas,” said Harinder Singh Lakhwal, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union. “We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if the farm laws are not scrapped,” he also said.
He said that farmers will protest against the Central Government and corporate houses and burn their effigies on Saturday, adding that on December 7, sportspersons will return their medals in solidarity with the farmers. The farmer leaders stuck to their demand that the Centre call a special session of Parliament to repeal the new farm laws, adding that the protestors do not want amendments but their scrapping.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will lead the Government side, also comprising Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State of Commerce and Industry Som Parkash, in the crucial round of talks on Saturday. In the previous meeting on Thursday, Tomar had assured 40 farmer union leaders that the Government is open to considering ways to strengthen APMC mandis, create a level-playing field with proposed private markets and provide a provision for approaching higher courts for dispute resolution, while asserting that procurement at minimum support price (MSP) will continue. But the other side stuck to their demand of repealing the three “hastily-passed” farm laws, saying that the legislations with several loopholes and deficiencies cannot be amended.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said the farmers are hoping that the Government will meet their demands during the fifth round of talks. “The Government and the farmers did not reach any decision during the meeting held on Thursday. The Government wants to make amendments to the three laws, but we want the laws to be completely repealed…” Tikait said.