Centre to hold talks with farmers again

Thu 15 Feb 2024, 10:31:53
New Delhi: The Union government will conduct a third round of talks with the protesting farmers in Chandigarh on Thursday evening. Defence minister Rajnath Singh was roped in to assist in finding a resolution to the issues of farmers. In a bid to dissuade the protesters, a delegation of three Union ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityananda Rai, who had earlier met farmers before the march began, will engage in another round of talks around 5 pm on Thursday along with Rajnath Singh. The ministers sought an assurance from the farmers that they will remain peaceful and will not try to push their way through the barricades until then.

Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said they would not make any fresh attempt to move towards Delhi till the meeting is held, asserting that the next course of action would be decided on the basis of the Centre’s proposals. “Based on a message we got last night and Union minister Anurag Thakur’s call for dialogue, we spoke to everyone in the movement and decided that we would remain peaceful and not try to push further from where we were. 

A meeting has been called for 5 pm tomorrow and we will continue our peaceful protest. No action will be taken from our side until then,” said Pandher.

The Opposition, however, is up in arms and continues to extend support to the farmers. The Congress again indicated its support for the protest with party leader Rahul Gandhi speaking to a farmer injured

in police action. As the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest by the farmers entered its second day, thousands of farmers braving tear gas shells and rubber pellets, continued to stay put and tried to breach the fortified Punjab Haryana borders after resorting to pelting stones at the security personnels on Wednesday.

Pandher alleged that even though they held a peaceful protest on Wednesday, drones were used and tear gas shells and rubber pellets were fired at them. “It wasn’t the police, but paramilitary forces that were attacking us. Despite all this, we are ready to speak to the Union government. The farmer leader also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the paramilitary forces, for not using tear gas on them.” 

At Shambhu border point near Ambala, there was intermittent shelling as tear smoke was used whenever any group of farmers moved towards the barricades. Security personnel too faced stone-pelting from the protesters. A similar standoff continued at the Data Singhwala-Khanauri border in Haryana’s Jind district. But the situation remained less volatile compared to Tuesday, when farmers tried to shift cement barriers at Shambhu with their tractors, attempting to push towards Delhi. Farmer leaders claimed that over 100 protesters were hurt Tuesday, hit by rubber bullets and tear gas shells. Police said 24 of their own men were injured in the stone-pelting by protesters during the first day of the protest.

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