Minister Hopeful of Resolution as Farmers Threaten to Shut Malls, Petrol Pumps if Demands Not Met
Protesting farmers listen to speeches during their agitation against the new farm laws at Singhu border in New Delhi. (PTI)
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday expressed hope that the next meeting with the leaders of the protesting farmers’ unions will end the deadlock even as farmers threatened to up the ante if all their demands are not met in the talks to be held on January 4.
Resolute in their demands for the repeal of three new farm laws and a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops, protesting farmer unions on Friday said they will start shutting all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana if the government fails to resolve their main demands.
Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, farmer leaders warned of multiple actions if their main demands are not met.
They said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government. "If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana," farmer leader Vikas told reporters.
Farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will also move towards the national capital, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said. Another leader Yudhveer Singh said that a tractor march will be held on January 6 if no concrete decision is taken in the next round of talks.
The warning from farmers came even as agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government is hopeful of a "positive outcome" at its next meeting with farmers' unions. Speaking to news agency PTI, the minister said that the last meeting held on December 30, 2020, happened in a cordial atmosphere and there is a possibility of positive results in the interest of farmers and of the country's farm sector at the next meeting.
After the sixth round of formal negotiations on Wednesday, the government and farm unions reached some common ground to resolve protesting farmers' concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.
After the talks between three union ministers and a 41-member representative group of thousands of farmers protesting on Delhi borders, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said at least 50 per cent resolution has been reached with mutual agreement on two out of four items on the agenda and discussions would continue on the remaining two on January 4 at 2 PM.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month against these three new laws. The government has presented these laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislations have left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems.