Farmers protesting near Delhi borders against the government’s controversial agricultural laws today urged people across the country to “skip one meal” to pay respect to “those who put food on your table”. The appeal to mark Farmers’ Day or Kisan Diwas came ahead of a meeting of 40 representatives to plan the next course of action after the centre told them to choose the next date for talks.
They also paid tributes to ex-Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, who won admiration for his agricultural policies. While some farmers paid tributes to the former prime minister at Delhi’s “Kisan Ghat”, another group performed “havan” in Ghazipur near UP border, remembering the leader.
Thousands of protesters began camping near the borders of the national capital nearly a month ago against the new laws, which they say will leave them at the mercy of corporates. On Monday, they launched a relay hunger strike, in which a group of 11 fasts everyday for 24 hours.
Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav, who is one of the leaders of the protest, tweeted this morning: “A special appeal of the farmers protest – Please fast and skip one meal today to honour those who put food on your tables. That will be your contribution to this protest.”
On Sunday, the government had asked the protesters to choose the date for next round of talks after five rounds of discussion earlier failed to resolve deadlock. Agriculture Minister Tomar said on Tuesday he is hopeful that protesting unions would soon complete their internal discussions and resume talks.
This morning, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government is holding talks with farmers “with full sensitivity”, stressing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “will never let any harm come to the farmers”
“On Farmers’ Day, I greet all the annadaatas (farmers) of the country. They have provided the country with food security. Some farmers are agitating against farm laws. The government is holding talks with them with full sensitivity. I hope that they’ll end their agitation soon,” Mr Singh tweeted in Hindi.
PM Modi also paid a tribute to ex-PM Chaudhary Charan Singh. “His entire life, he was dedicated to the development of villages and farmers, and he will always be remembered for his contribution,” he tweeted in Hindi.
PM Modi has spoken in favour of the farm laws several times, without referring to the protests that erupted late November. The new reforms will help boost farmers’ income, he said.
Amid repeated assurances from the government on the minimum support price for their produce, farmers have stuck to their demand that the laws be repealed.