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'A disaster will remain disaster even after 1.5 years'

Last updated on: January 22, 2021 18:38 IST

'Why should the government keep these laws on hold for 1.5 years when they are so disastrous for the interests and well-being of farmers?'

IMAGE: Farmers during their ongoing protest against the farm laws at the Singhu border in New Delhi. Photograph: Ravi Choudhary/PTI Photo
 

Farmer leaders, under the umbrella banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, have unanimously rejected the government's proposal to keep the three controversial farm laws on hold for 1.5 years.

While hectic parleys were held between Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar -- who is spearheading the talks on behalf of the Modi government along with Commerce Minister Piyush Ved Prakash Goyal -- and Home Minister Amit Anilchandra Shah and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders ahead of the meeting with the farmers, the protesting farmers have once again refused to accede to the government's latest proposal.

"Are we asking them not to use force against us? We are here to test how much force the government can use. Let them use as much force as they want to use, the farmers are not afraid of force," Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

Why has the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha rejected the government's proposal to keep the three farm laws on hold for 1.5 years?

In the full general body meeting held by the SKM we have unanimously rejected the government proposal to keep the three farm laws on hold for 1.5 years.

But we will continue to talk with the government. We are all for peaceful resolution of our grievances. Like we have been doing in all the previous rounds, in the next round of talks we will reiterate our demand to make an MSP (minimum support price) guarantee law and repeal of the three farm laws.

Does the government's proposal make sense?

What sense can disasters make?

Why should we accept the proposal to keep these laws on hold when our actual demand is the repeal of those laws?

Why should the government keep these laws on hold for 1.5 years when they are so disastrous for the interests and well-being of farmers?

A disaster will remain a disaster even after 1.5 years.

Will the farmers be going ahead with the January 26 tractor parade in Delhi?

We will be going ahead with our plans to hold the January 26 tractor parade.

The government is repeatedly insinuating that farmers are Khalistanis and our agitation is taken over by some extremist elements. They should have desisted from such insinuations.

We will be taking out this tractor parade under the shadow of the Indian tiranga (the national tricolour; the Indian national flag); we want to make a statement that our hopes lie in the national tricolour and India's Constitution.

You can say that the tractor parade is in reaction to government's insinuations that Khalistanis have taken over our agitation. We will also discuss with the Delhi police about the permission for our tractor parade.

By proposing to keep the three farm laws on hold for 1.5 years, hasn't the Modi government indicated that it has taken a few solid steps back on their stand of not repealing the three laws?

If the government is not willing to backtrack, then we can't help it. We can only agitate peacefully against these farm laws.

If the government thinks it is stronger (than farmers), then it is misreading what sterner stuff India's farmers are made up of.

It should not think that farmers are not as strong as the government is.

What does the government want to achieve by keeping the three farm laws on hold for 1.5 years?

We will get to know the government's intention in keeping these three laws on hold for 1.5 years. Whatever is their intention, it is not acceptable to the farmers.

Even if the government says that it will keep these laws on hold for five years, it is not acceptable to us.

We want total repeal of the three farm laws. The farmers are not going anywhere till then.

Let the government take one week, one month, or one year to change its stand over the repeal of these laws.

We will go back once these laws are repealed. Kisan Dilli chhod kahin nahi jane ka (the farmers are in no hurry to move out of Delhi).

What if the government uses strong-arm tactics against the farmers to quell your agitation?

Are we asking them not to use force against us? We are here to test how much force the government can use. Let them use as much force as they want to use, yeh kisan kahin nahi jane ke (the farmers are not afraid of force).

Our lives and livelihoods will be compromised if we accept these three farm laws. Also, our demand has been the same right from day one of our negotiations with the government.

Where is the question of farmers compromising on these demands?

Who will be responsible if anything untoward happens?

If the government uses force to break our agitation, then do you want the farmers to take responsibility for the government's actions?

Whoever uses the might of the State should take the responsibility if anything untoward happens.

Let them use lathis or whatever they else they want to use against us.

Aren't farmers blocking roads and causing traffic jams?

If the government withdraws and repeals the three laws the farmers too will withdraw their agitation (and then there will be no roadblocks).

Farmers are sitting here in the cold for more than two-three months, but the government is just ignoring our demand.

What is not allowing this government to repeal the three laws?

Have you any idea what the government is planning to do with these three farm laws after the 1.5 year period is over?

That is not the road that farmers want to take. We are not interested in what the government's plan will be after 1.5 years.

We have just two simple demands: Repeal the three farm laws and bring an MSP guarantee law.

If the MSP is guaranteed by law, then won't the government have to purchase crops from the farmers at MSP?

We are not asking the government to purchase farmers' crops at MSP.

The law will ensure that traders won't be able to fool farmers and purchase their produce at a rate that doesn't even cover their minimum costs of production.

As it is, even today, the government is not purchasing farmers' produce at MSP even today though it declares the MSP for almost 23 crops.

A guaranteed MSP will prevent traders from looting us.

But if the traders don't find the it affordable to purchase farmers' produce at MSP, then who will purchase it?

Arre, jise roti khanni hogi woh khariddega (Those who want to eat food will purchase it from us).

Won't the government have to pitch in if traders don't purchase at MSP?

If a person is taken to a hospital and if that person dies in a hospital or under the care of doctors, then are doctors or hospitals blamed for that person's death?

Are they hanged for the death of that person?

Similarly, let the traders and governments not purchase farmers' produce. Nobody will blame them for doing so.

Farmers will find buyers. Don't worry about it. Just enact the MSP guarantee law.

PRASANNA D ZORE