As protests against the new farm bill continue to get worse, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday requested the farmers to end their protest and offered to have a talk next week on December 3.
“The government has always been ready to discuss issues with farmers. We have invited farmers’ organisations for another round of talks on 3rd December. I appeal to them to leave agitation in view of COVID-19 and winter,” Mr Tomar told news agency ANI.
Hundreds of officers were deployed at different entry points to the capital, parking trucks full of sand and laying barbed wire to block the farmers’ path. The BJP-led central government blinked as thousands of farmers from six states showed no signs of slowing down or giving up despite being stopped in Haryana, UP-Rajasthan border and then again in Delhi. Delhi police finally allowed the farmers to enter the national capital under police escort after two days of intense protests.
The new farm law, which was passed earlier this year, enables the farmers to sell their produce to anyone at any price, instead of state-controlled markets at assured rates. The farmers say the new laws deregulating the vast agriculture sector will leave small growers vulnerable to corporate agri-businesses and could lead to a withdrawal of price supports for staples like wheat and rice.
PM Modi on the other hand asserted that it was a “complete transformation of the agricultural sector” and would “empower tens of millions of farmers”. He added that that the new laws will encourage much-needed investment and modernization.
The opposition Congress party has argued that the change will give private corporations free rein to exploit farmers.