skm: Govt seeks five names from farmer unions for a proposed committee, SKM wants clarity on its mandate before sending response | India News

NEW DELHI: A day after repeal of the three farm laws in Parliament, the government on Tuesday informally reached out to protesting farmer unions seeking five names of their representatives for a proposed committee which is to be constituted to deliberate on different issues including minimum support price (MSP). The unions will, however, wait for a formal communication in this regard before responding to it.
“We’ll discuss this in our meeting on December 4 and accordingly communicate it to the government,” said Darshan Pal, leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a joint platform of farmer unions – that wrote to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 21 on its six pending demands including legal guarantee to MSP.
Though there was no formal communication from agriculture ministry in this regard till late Tuesday evening, the ministry reached out to a leader of farmer union from Punjab through telephonic call seeking names of five SKM representatives for the proposed committee which the Prime Minister had announced on November 19.
SKM leaders, however, said they would wait for a formal communication from the government and discuss it whether its terms of reference would include a clear mandate on modalities of framing a law for giving legal guarantee to the MSP – one of the key demands in the list of six which they have been pitching for after repeal of farm laws.
“We have received no written communication and no details are available so far about what this Committee is about, its manade or terms of reference. In the absence of such details, it would be premature to comment on this issue,” said the SKM in a statement on the government’s move.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said, “We want the government to have a meeting with us on the issues of legal guarantee to MSP, and the farmers who died, before our meeting on December 4. Our agitation is not going to end. The government has not accepted our demands yet.”
The government’s move of reaching out to SKM comes at a time when a section of farmer unions from Punjab in their meeting on Monday expressed willingness to leave the protest sites along Delhi border in the wake of repeal of three farm laws. There was, however, no consensus on this within the group of 32 unions from Punjab as many among them insisted not to vacate the sites until there is, at least, an agreement on withdrawal of cases against farmers.
Representatives of farmer unions believe that if they leave the protest sites without concrete assurance on this, the states and railways won’t withdraw such cases and farmers will have to take rounds to local courts for years. They, therefore, want to go by the consensus decision and would like to wait for the SKM’s announcement on their next course of action and mode of protests after its meeting at Singhu Border on December 4.
Though the Punjab government has promised to withdraw all those cases registered during the protests, there is no such assurance from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The SKM leaders claimed that there were cases registered against around 48,000 farmers during agitation in Haryana alone.
The SKM said there would be discussion on December 4 on the various points raised in the letter to the Prime Minister and future decisions will be taken. “Vague statements here and there as a response to the pending demands of protesting farmers are not an acceptable response or assurance from BJP governments, and SKM seeks solid assurances on, and concrete addressal of, the pending demands,” said the Morcha on Tuesday.
It said, “Haryana chief minister has already indicated that he will act on the instructions of the central government when it comes to withdrawal of cases filed against around 48,000 farmers in the state, and the central government cannot escape its responsibility of having to fulfill the remaining demands of farmers.”
On reports of a proposed meeting between Haryana chief minister and Haryana farm union leaders on Wednesday, the SKM clarified that it has not received “any formal or informal invitation” from the state government so far. “No meeting has been scheduled as yet,” it said.
The SKM had on November 21 written to the Prime Minister urging him to immediately resume talks with unions on the farmers’ six demands including legal guarantee to procurement of crops at MSP. The other demands in the list include withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill, scrapping of provisions of fines for stubble burning in the Commission for Air Quality Management law, withdrawal of cases against farmers, sacking and arrest of junior home minister Ajay Kumar Mishra over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, and compensation to kin of around 700 farmers who died during the protests and allotment of a site at Singhu Border to set up a memorial for them.

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