India

"Who Asked You For Farm Laws": Angry Farmers' Query To Centre

Thousands of farmers, braving water cannons and tear gas have reached the borders of Delhi.

New Delhi:

Angry farmers questioned today why the BJP-led central government had to bring in the three new farm laws, described by the government as agricultural reforms that meet their long-standing demands. The government is only interested in the welfare of the corporates, said the representatives of farmers groups amid the three-month agitation that has led to the Delhi Chalo protest.
"The government is saying much about the efficacy of the laws. We had a meeting on the 13th and we asked them which farmer asked for these laws," said one of the farm leaders at a press conference this evening.

Refering to the government's "One nation one market" maxim, a leader said: "The ground reality is that in 1976, we held an agitation against zonal restrictions. We could not take wheat out of Punjab. For 40 days, 1,450 farmers were put in jail. In November 1976, the high court, in an order, said the government cannot stop farmers from selling their produce anywhere in the country. In 1977, the Janata Party government declared that the whole country will be a single zone."

Since then, produce from any place could be sold anywhere in the country, he said. Giving instances, he said paddy from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh goes to Punjab. Onions, oranges  and bananas from Maharashtra go everywhere. Punjab farmers take their crops to Delhi's Azadpur mandi.

"So what is the new thing have you done?" he said. "Just to keep corporates happy, they have done this... They could not find any logic so they said they have made 'One nation One Market'. The reality is they have one nation two markets," he added."One is the traditional APMC markets and another where there is no rule. Anyone can show pan card or any other government ID and buy anything. They can even buy wheat from four villages and go away. There is no saying that you will get payment," he said.  

Pointing out the instance of sugarcane, he said in such cases, there is no redress.

The farmers have rejected Union Home Minister Amit Shah's conditional offer for early talks. In a letter, Mr Shah had said discussions with the farmers will take place on December 3. If they wanted talks earlier than that, they will have to move their protest at a designated spot, the farmers said.

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"We were told there will be a meeting on Monday without any conditions but we received a letter with conditions. If they accept our demands, we will go back home," said one of the farmer representatives.

"Farmers from across the country are agitating. Amit Shah is trying to brand it as an agitation by the farmers of Punjab. They don't want to accept that the agitation has become an all-India movement. That is why all their letters are just addressed to us. Other farmer leaders, who are protesting must also be invited," the farm leaders said.

Over the last four days, thousands of farmers, braving water cannons, tear gas and barricades of the Haryana police, have reached the borders of Delhi. While some of them have managed to enter the city, the rest are sitting at the border areas, saying they are ready to do what it takes to see the end of the three farm laws passed by parliament earlier this year.

Earlier today, after holding a meeting where they decided to turn down the government's offer, the farmers said the three anti-farmer and pro-corporate bills should be repealed and minimum support Price of crops should be guaranteed.