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farm laws: Protesting farmer unions hold marathon meeting ahead of talks with government

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New Delhi: A day before their eleventh round of talks with the government, protesting unions leaders held a marathon meeting on Thursday to discuss the Centre’s proposal to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 18 months and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution in the interest of the farming community.

Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farm unions leading protests at several Delhi border points, held discussion over the government’s latest offer at the Singhu border.

A farmer leader said that the Morcha started its meeting around 2.30 pm on Thursday and it is expected to last till late evening.

During the tenth round of negotiations on Wednesday, the government proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1-1.5 years and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution in the interest of the farming community. The two sides decided to meet again on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed panel on the new agri laws started its consultation process on Thursday and interacted with 10 farmer organisations from eight states, including Uttar Pradesh.

The apex court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws, against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for nearly two months now, till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.

Earlier in the day, the meeting between protesting unions and police over the January 26 tractor rally remained inconclusive as the farmers stuck to their demand to take it out on Delhi’s busy Outer Ring Road.

Taking to reporters after the meeting, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said that police officers wanted farmer leaders to take out their tractor rally outside the national capital, which is not possible.

“We will carry out our parade peacefully inside Delhi. They wanted us to hold tractor rally outside Delhi, which is not possible,” said Yadav, who is actively participating in the ongoing agitation against the three farm laws.

Sources said that police officers tried to convince protesting farm unions to hold their tractor rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway instead of the Outer Ring Road.

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 MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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