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Farmer unions refuse to appear before 'pro-govt' panel

Last updated on: January 12, 2021 23:48 IST

Protesting farmer unions on Tuesday asserted they will not appear before the Supreme Court-appointed panel, alleging it was 'pro-government', and said they won't settle for anything less than the repeal of the three contentious laws.


IMAGE: Farmer leader Darshan Pal Singh from Punjab with others addresses a press conference during ongoing their agitation against new farm laws, at Singhu border in New Delhi. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

They also raised doubts over the neutrality of the members of the committee even as they welcomed the top court's order to stay the implementation of the laws.

Addressing a press conference at Singhu Border in New Delhi, farmer leader Balbeer Singh Rajewal said that farmers never demanded the Supreme Court form a committee to resolve the impasse, alleging the central government was behind this development.

"The members of the SC-appointed committee are not dependable as they have been writing on how agri laws are pro-farmer.

"We will continue our agitation," Rajewal told the presser after a meeting of 32 farmer unions from Punjab.

"We are against any committee on principle. It is the government's way to distract attention from the protest," he said, adding that farmers will go ahead with their proposed January 26 'Kisan Parade' that will be moved into the national capital.

Taking to Twitter, Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait alleged the members of the committee set up by the top court have been in support of open market system or three farm laws.

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said in a statement, 'It is clear that the court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee.

'These are people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same.'

On Wednesday, Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, which represents around 40 protesting unions, will hold a meeting to discuss the next course of action.

The Supreme Court earlier in the day stayed the implementation of the controversial farm laws till further orders and set up the four-member committee to resolve the impasse between the Centre and the farmer unions protesting at Delhi's borders over the legislations.

At the press conference, Rajewal said the apex court can repeal the farm laws suo motu.

Another farmer leader, Darshan Singh, said they will not appear before any committee, adding Parliament should discuss and resolve this issue.

"We don't want any external committee," he said.

Farmer leader Jagmohan Singh Patiala said the aim of forming a committee is basically to cool down the agitation.

In a statement issued late evening, Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint forum of around 40 unions, also said the court was being 'misguided' by various forces even in formation of a committee.

'The SC has formed a committee in its own wisdom and farmer unions have nothing much to say on this. Farmer unions reiterate the fact that they will not participate in any such committee process,' it said in the statement.

'These (committee members) are people who are known for their support to the three Acts and have actively advocated for the same.

'It is not out of place to remind that the farmer unions have rejected a Committee proposal from the government too.

'Their dialogue is basically with an elected government about its policy directions and Concomitant laws,' the Morcha also said.

The farmer leaders, however, said they would attend the January 15 meeting with the government.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Haryana and Punjab, have been protesting at several border points of Delhi since November 28 last year, demanding a repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) system for their crops.

The four members of the committee are BKU president Bhupinder Singh Mann, Shetkeri Sangathana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, South Asia Director for International Food Policy Research Institute Pramod Kumar Joshi, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati.

"We welcome the court's order to stay the implementation of the farm laws, but we want a complete repeal of these laws," Abhimanyu Kohar, a senior leader of the Morcha, told PTI.

Another farmer leader, Harinder Lokhwal, said the protest will continue until the contentious farm laws are repealed.

During the hearing, the top court sought the cooperation of the protesting farmers and made it clear that no power can prevent it from setting up a committee to resolve the impasse.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the 'mandi' (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. 

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