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Can’t Compromise on Demand for MSP, Cases, Compensation, says SKM, After MHA Fails to Hold Talks

Farmer leaders cut up as Centre has not yet tried to open up dialogue on remaining demands with the 5-member committee.

New Delhi: After a day-long meeting at the Singhu Border, the core committee of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Monday said that farmers’ leaders had so far received only verbal assurances from the Union government and it remained non-committal on any written statement for withdrawal of criminal cases and compensation to farmers who died at protest sites.

Farmer leaders told NewsClick that Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah had a talk with Yudhveer Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) leader from Western Uttar Pradesh, on both matters. However, Shah failed to commit anything concrete to SKM, the farmers’ collective that has been spearheading protests at the borders of the national capital.

The morcha had constituted a five-member committee, including Yudhveer Singh from BKU Tikait, Ashok Dhawale from All India Kisan Sabha, Gurnam Singh Chaduni from BKU (Chaduni), Shiv Kumar Kakkaji from Rashtriya Mazdoor Kisan Mahasangh and Balbir Singh Rajewal from BKU Rajewal, to talk to the Centre regarding the pending issues flagged by farmers after the Prime Minister’s national address on November 19 in which he announced repeal of the three contentious farm laws.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan from BKU Ekta Ugrahan said the movement would be intensified if the government failed to act on the demands. “First they asked us for names to begin a dialogue. When we announced our five-member committee, it did not meet it for any dialogue. After discussing issues for long, we want to categorically say that the agitation will only intensify on Delhi’s borders and states. We will place the developments in a larger meet of the morcha on November 7 to decide future action,” he added.

Ashok Dhawale, national president, AIKS, told NewsClick that the committee members did not get any message from the Home Ministry about pending issues.

“We made it clear that farmers would not compromise on the issues of withdrawal of cases, compensation to martyred farmers and the committee on minimum support prices. Our farmers fought for one year relentlessly on the roads, endangering their lives in the harsh winter, scorching summer and thunderous storms. Mr Home Minster, please have some respect for their sacrifice. How can we leave their families in this critical juncture?’ he said.

Dhawale said the previous United Progressive Alliance government had formed the National Commission for Farmers under the chairmanship eminent agriculturist M S Swaminathan, which recommended that the farmers should get 1.5 times the price of crops in comparison to their costs. “You put it (the recommendations) in cold storage. For us, it is a fight for our dignity. If the government does not budge, we know how to deal with it,” he added.

Addressing a press conference, Yudhveer Singh said the committee was disappointed with the treatment meted out to it. “It was the government’s desire that we should form a smaller committee to talk. We adhered to the demand. But after a gap of two days, we think we are left with the sole option to continue the agitation more aggressively. We wanted this government to resolve issues, not complicate them. We did not add any new demand. The demands for MSP, compensation and withdrawal of cases are uncompromising ones .We also want to make it clear that our pre-announced programmes, like Mission UP and Mission Uttarakhand, will continue in the context of election- bound states,” he said.

When asked about the political messaging behind not meeting the farmers’ leadership, Singh said: “We were happy that the government agreed to our demands by repealing the Acts. Ideally, the PM should have talked about other issues too and bring a conclusive end to the agitation. However, we feel we have been humiliated that a unilateral decision was made and announced through national television without any talk.”

Gurnam Singh Chaduni, veteran leader from Haryana, said the historical experience of movements suggest that the issues are addressed in its entirety, not in a piecemeal manner.

“We have been carrying out struggles for decades. Cases were withdrawn the moment governments decided to agree on our demands. However, this is entirely a different government, which does not have a basic etiquette to come to the table and talk. We just want to remind them that our programmes will continue, including the March to Parliament, if all constituents of SKM agree to it,” he added.

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