Farmers vow to intensify protest as talks with government continue

Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda expressed optimism regarding the talks, stating that they would surely reach a conclusion if carried forward peacefully. He expressed hope that a solution would soon be found and emphasized the need for a balanced decision, mindful of all aspects discussed during the negotiations.

The farmers’ protest in India shows no signs of abating as demonstrators gear up for a fourth round of talks with central ministers on Sunday evening. The ongoing agitation, now in its fifth day, has seen farmer unions reaffirming their commitment to escalate the protest. The upcoming discussions aim to address key demands concerning farm policies, including farm loan waivers, legal guarantees for minimum support prices (MSP), and the adoption of a comprehensive cost formula to determine MSP.

Following the conclusion of the third round of talks, farmers and trade unions staged a nationwide strike, known as Bharat Bandh, on Friday. This demonstration underscored the steadfast resolve of the protesters amidst the dialogue with the government.

Advertisement

Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda expressed optimism regarding the talks, stating that they would surely reach a conclusion if carried forward peacefully. He expressed hope that a solution would soon be found and emphasized the need for a balanced decision, mindful of all aspects discussed during the negotiations. He added that the decision could not be taken in such a way that people would criticize the situation without thinking and understanding in the coming days.

Amidst the protests, reports emerged of around 400 protesters sustaining injuries at the Punjab-Haryana borders due to clashes and tear gas shelling by riot police. In response, farmers have demanded financial aid and job security for the injured protesters. The demonstrations initially began as part of the “Dilli Chalo” march, aiming to pressure the government into implementing a minimum support price for agricultural produce.

Tragically, the protests have claimed two lives. A 63-year-old protester from Punjab succumbed to a heart attack at the Shambu border. Gian Singh, who experienced chest pain, was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead by doctors. Additionally, a Government Railway Police (GRP) official also passed away due to a heart attack amidst the unrest.

Meanwhile, farmer leaders reiterated their grievances during a press conference at the Shambu border. They criticized the government for announcing MSP for 23 crops while only purchasing 2-3 crops, alleging favoritism towards corporates. Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher emphasized the desire to end the exploitation by corporates in purchasing crops as the first step.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal, another farmer leader, urged the government to prioritize the welfare of consumers and producers over corporate interests to resolve the ongoing crisis.

As tensions continue to grow and negotiations continue, both farmers and the government remain committed to finding a resolution that addresses the concerns of all stakeholders.