Dusting down speculations of the farmers’ agitation ending at the borders of the national capital, Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) - a collective of farmers’ unions - on Saturday said that it is giving union government and state governments two days to decide on the pending demands raised in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The morcha said that it has constituted a five-member committee of Ashok Dhawale, Yudhveer Singh, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Shiv Kumar Kakkaji and Balbir Singh Rajewal to negotiate with the government regarding the pending demands. The farmers in their letter to PM Modi had asked for the formation of a time-bound committee to decide issues regarding minimum support price with clear terms of reference, withdrawal of criminal cases against farmers, compensation to the farmers who died at protest sites and allocation of land to build a memorial honouring the martyred farmers.
The leaders said that the morcha will be meeting on December 7 to decide the future course of action.
Addressing a press conference at Singhu Border, Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) said that the committee would decide the procedure and the members who would be negotiating with different state governments regarding demands. He added that the government has so far chosen to remain non-committal on the issues and has explored backchannel avenues to approach the farmers.
“We are asking it now to talk to this committee about our demands. Until these demands are not fulfilled, we are not going anywhere!” The Haryana and Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday hinted to SKM that it will be initiating the process of withdrawal of cases.
Talking to NewsClick, Dharamender Malik, Media Incharge, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) said, “The officials of the Uttar Pradesh government called us and apprised us that it will be withdrawing the cases. They also said that the process for compensation to the kin of dead and injured persons in Lakhimpur Kheri massacre will be completed in three days.”
Ashok Dhawale, National President, All India Kisan Sabha told NewsClick that the centre cannot evade its duties by passing the buck to the state governments.
“Centre must understand that it cannot run away from its responsibility. Several thousand cases are registered by the railways because protesters stopped trains as part of nationwide protests and Bharat Bandhs called by morcha. They did not involve in any violence or arson. They were booked because they were exercising fundamental rights. We want the Centre to not only withdraw these cases but to write state governments to initiate the process there too,” Dhawale said.
He added,” It was decided unanimously that the farmers' agitation will continue in the same form until formal written assurances and responses are obtained from the Government of India. As is known, SKM has sent a letter to the Prime Minister of India on November 21, soon after the Prime Minister's address to the nation to announce the repeal of the three farm laws on November 19. The Government of India has however chosen to work informally and in a piecemeal fashion of responding to some of the issues being raised by the protesting farmers.”
Continuing, he said “Farmer unions of India have a bitter experience from the past of securing only oral assurances and ending their agitation and finding that Governments renege on the meagre oral assurances too. We will not end this agitation without written assurances on each of the issues being raised by us. We want to see all the cases foisted against farmers as well as their supporters as part of this movement to be withdrawn and such an assurance coming in writing.”
Earlier on Friday, the farmers had sent the names of martyred farmers who died at the protest sites to the Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, after the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in his statement in Parliament, had denied providing compensation as the Ministry had no data about died farmers.
Commenting on the denial of data of dead farmers, Shiv Kumar Kakkaji, President, Rashtriya Majdoor Kisan Mahasabha said‒We saw in the Mandsaur agitation that the government paid compensation of Rs 1 crore to the kin of slain agitators, but even then, it did not withdraw cases. We are still fighting these 9,000 cases in Madhya Pradesh even after four years.
As far as the statement of Narendra Tomar is concerned, it is laughable that has no data about the martyred farmers. National Crime Records Bureau keeps data of deaths in the country. Local police conducted post mortem of 150 protesters of one organisation alone here. How can they deny it,” he exclaimed.