Talks remain deadlocked between Indian farmers, govt

Published January 16, 2021
In this file photo, farmer leaders gesture as they arrive to attend a meeting with government representatives in New Delhi, India, December 30, 2020. — Reuters
In this file photo, farmer leaders gesture as they arrive to attend a meeting with government representatives in New Delhi, India, December 30, 2020. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: A ninth round of talks between the Indian government and protesting farmers over three new contentious farm laws made no headway on Friday, but a government minister and union leaders said they would resume discussions on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said that the laws introduced in September will unshackle farmers from the obligation of selling produce only at regulated wholesale markets. But the farmers say the bills are designed to benefit private buyers.

“Today’s talks with farmers unions were inconclusive, and we will hold talks again on Jan 19,” Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said. “We are sure that we’ll be able to come to an agreement through our talks.” Tomar said the government was concerned about the health of farmers who have been camping on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi in protest for almost two months.

Farmers’ around-the-clock sit-ins in cold weather have already led to some deaths among them.

“We are committed to finding a solution through our dialogues with the government, and that’s why we’ve again agreed to meet on Jan. 19,” said Rakesh Tikait, one of the farmers’ leaders who attended the meeting with ministers.

Farmers have threatened to march to Delhi on Jan 26, when India celebrates its Republic Day.

The Supreme Court has ordered an indefinite stay on implementing the new laws and appointed a four-member panel to hear farmers’ objections.

Raising doubt about the panel’s composition, farmer union leaders have said they will not appear before the committee. Panel members favour the three laws, protesting farmers say.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the four members, has recused himself from the Supreme Court-appointed panel. Mann comes from Punjab, one of India’s breadbasket states. Punjab’s politically influential farmers have been at the vanguard of the agitation.

The opposition Congress party has protested at state capitals to support the farmers’ case.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

Opinion

Crumbs of neutrality?
28 Feb 2021

Crumbs of neutrality?

One must assess the opposition’s new-found realisation that the establishment has suddenly become neutral.
Saving Pakistan
27 Feb 2021

Saving Pakistan

If the three main political parties have each failed to govern well, the question arises: why?

Editorial

28 Feb 2021

Covid concerns

WITH every form of restriction now effectively lifted in the country after an assessment of the Covid-19 situation,...
FATF decision
Updated 28 Feb 2021

FATF decision

THE decision taken by the Financial Action Task Force to keep Pakistan on the grey list until June, despite the...
28 Feb 2021

Underfunded police

FOR decades, successive governments in the country have talked about police reforms. While the latter are essential,...
LoC ceasefire
Updated 27 Feb 2021

LoC ceasefire

THE Pakistan-India relationship is known for its complexity and bitterness, but there are times when surprises of a...
27 Feb 2021

Null and void

HAD people not lost their lives, the ham-fisted attempt at rigging the Daska by-election on Feb 19 could have been...
27 Feb 2021

Minister’s non-appearance

FEDERAL Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda’s continued absence from the Election Commission’s hearing on the...