As their agitation completed seven months, farmer leaders on Saturday stuck to their demands, saying they will call off their protest if the government repeals the three farm laws even as Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar appealed to them to end their stir and offered to resume talks.
Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union, an umbrella body of farm unions that is spearheading the agitation, said farmers will end the protest once the agri laws are repealed.
"The government does not talk about minimum support price. The government always talks about amendment in the laws. However, we want them to repeal the laws. We also want them to introduce a law on MSP," Singh said.
Shiv Kumar Kakka, national president of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, said they will not hold talks under any precondition.
"We have lost over 600 farmers in last seven months and they (government) are telling us to end this agitation. There will be no dialogue under any preconditions.
"If the government repeals the three farm laws and makes a new one with the guarantee of minimum support price (MSP), we will thank them and head back to our respective places," Kakka said.
The government and farmer unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers’ protest.
Talks have not resumed following widespread violence during a tractor rally by protesting farmers on January 26.
Jamhuri Kisan Sabha general secretary Kulwant Singh said they also want to go back home as soon as possible.
"The government is asking us to end the protest as they are ready for talks. We have already asked the government several times to repeal the three laws. If they do so, we will head back home as soon as possible from the borders. We do not like doing this and staying out of home for months," Singh said.
The Supreme Court had put on hold the implementation of the three laws till further orders and has set up a committee to find solutions. The committee has submitted its report.
"I want to convey through your (media) that farmers should end their agitation. ....Many are in favour of these new laws across the country. Still, some farmers have any issue with provisions of the laws, Government of India is ready to listen and discuss with them," Tomar tweeted on Saturday.
He said the government held 11 rounds of consultations with protesting farmer unions. The government has increased the minimum support price (MSP) and is procuring more quantity at MSP.
On Saturday, hundreds of farmers from interiors of Uttar Pradesh, many of them on tractors, reached Ghazipur on Delhi’s borders to mark the completion of seven months of the protest.
Led by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, a group of protesters submitted a memorandum of their demands at the office of DCP Northeast Delhi after a virtual meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
The farmers had given a call for a protest march from Civil Lines metro station to the Raj Bhawan, a senior police officer said, adding that the Delhi Police tightened security across borders of the national capital in view of the anticipated march.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi's borders for seven months now in protest the three laws that they say will end state procurement of crops at MSP.
Farmers’ protest had started on November 26 last year and has now completed seven months notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.