Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also joined the meeting at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26


Chandigarh: Three Union ministers began their third round of talks with the leaders of protesting farmer unions in Chandigarh Thursday evening, amid a standoff between the protesters and security personnel at two points on the Punjab-Haryana border.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also joined the meeting at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26.

Union Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Arjun Munda, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai are representing the central government in the meeting over farmer unions’ various demands, including a law guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops.

This will be the third round of talks between the two sides — the previous two rounds of dialogue on February 8 and 12 remained inconclusive.

Farmers camp at border

Among the farmer leaders taking part in the meeting are SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have given the ‘Delhi Chalo’ call to press the Centre to accept their demands.

Farmers from Punjab began their march to the national capital on Tuesday, but were stopped by security personnel at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points with Haryana.

The protesting farmers have been camping at the border points.

March halted amid meeting

Earlier, the farmer leaders had said they would not make any fresh attempt to move towards the national capital till the meeting with ministers was held, asserting that the next course of action would be decided on the basis of the Centre’s proposals.

Separately, farmers squatted on railway tracks at many places in Punjab over the Haryana Police’s action against ‘Delhi Chalo’ protesters.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) and the BKU Dakaunda (Dhaner) gave the ‘rail roko’ call.

The decision was taken in protest against the use of tear gas shells and water cannons against the protesting farmers by the Haryana security personnel at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points.

Meanwhile, on the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, farmers also staged demonstrations at several toll plazas in Punjab to protest against the Haryana Police action.

They also forced the toll authorities to let go commuters without charging them a toll fee.

On Tuesday, farmers, mainly from Punjab, had clashed with Haryana Police at two border points between the states, facing tear gas and water cannons as they tried to break the barricades blocking their protest march to the national capital.

Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, and compensation for the families of farmers who died during the previous agitation in 2020-21.

‘Bharat bandh’ today

To intensify their agitation over various demands, farmers’ unions have called for a ‘Gramin Bharat Bandh’ or nationwide strike on Friday, February 16.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has urged all farmers’ unions and organisations across the country to take part in the bandh as the Modi government refuses to yield.

Source: Siasat Daily