Leaders of 29 farmer unions walked out of meeting with agriculture secretary on Wednesday that was held to discuss the recently enacted farm laws. The leaders tore copies of the Act outside Delhi’s Krishi Bhawan.
A leader said that they walk out of the meeting as no minister was present. “We want these laws to be taken back," he said. Another cited “unsatisfactory discussions" as the reason for the walkout. “We want these black laws to be scrapped. The secretary said he’ll communicate our demands further," the leader added.
A seven-member panel of protesting farmers in Punjab was formed on Tuesday to hold talks with the Centre. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) chief Balbir Singh Rajewal said that they have decided that representatives of all farmers’ bodies will attend the meeting.
The leaders included in the panel are Balbir Singh Rajewal, Darshan Pal, Jagjit singh Dalewal, Jagmohan Singh, Kulwant Singh, Surjit Singh and Satnam Singh Sahni. Earlier on Monday, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, a farmers’ body in Punjab, decided not to attend the meeting called by the Union Agriculture Department on October 14.
The farmers’ organisations, whose agitation against the laws has disrupted rail traffic and severely impacted coal supply to thermal power plants in Punjab, had last week rejected the Centre’s invitation to participate in a “conference to address their concerns" on October 8. Rajewal said as per the invitation sent by the secretary of the Union Agriculture Department, the Centre wants to hold talks with them.
Farmers in Punjab have been demanding that the three laws passed by Parliament recently be repealed. Farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws will pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy" of big corporates.
The government, however, has been saying that the laws passed by Parliament recently amid a vociferous protest will raise farmers’ income, free them from the clutches of the middlemen and usher in new technology in farming.