Tractor march, ‘healthy discussion’: Where farmers’ protest stand ahead of 8th meeting

After seven rounds of talks over three agriculture laws passed by Parliament in September 2020, farmers’ union leaders and Union ministers will sit for the eighth consultation on Friday. Both the sides have made two things clear: the laws won’t be repealed and farmers won’t reconsider their demand of a complete withdrawal of the laws. While farmers are intensifying their protest braving the cold and rain of Delhi, the Centre is hopeful that a conclusion will be reached soon.

Supreme Court hearing

The Supreme Court on January 11 will hear a batch of pleas challenging the farm laws and also pleas which raised issues related to the ongoing protests. The Supreme Court bench on Wednesday was informed by the Centre that healthy discussions were going on between the government and farmers. Attorney General K K Venugopal said there is a good chance that parties may come to a conclusion in the near future. “We understand the situation and encourage the consultation,” the bench said.

On Thursday, the apex court was hearing a plea seeking various reliefs including that of CBI probe into the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz etc. During the hearing, it asked the Centre whether farmers protesting against the farm laws are protected against the spread of Covid-19.

Protests to intensify

On January 7, the protesters took out tractor march from four different points — Singhu to Tikri border, Tikri to Kundlim Ghazipur to Palwal and Rewasan to Palwal. Terming the tractor march as a trailer of what will happen on January 26, Republic Day, protesters on Friday said when their leaders decide to enter the capital, protesters will enter Delhi. Thursday’s tractor march was only at the border points.

What happened at earlier meetings

Several thousands of farmers started their ‘Dilli Chalo’ march on November 26. Consultation with the Centre, however, began in September soon after the bills were passed. Farmers’ leaders walked out of the first meeting as no minister was present. In the consequent meetings, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, railways and food minister Piyush Goyal, minister of state for commerce and industry Som Prakash are generally present. They explain to the union leaders the benefits of the laws. There was agreement between the two parties on stubble burning and electricity, but on MSP and on the issue of withdrawing the laws completely, ther has been no headway yet.

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