SKM suspends Parliament tractor march; Tomar says Bill to repeal farm laws to be tabled on Monday

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the year-long protest by farmers at the gates of Delhi against the three new agriculture laws, said Saturday that it was suspending its march to Parliament following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the laws will be repealed in the winter session of the House starting Monday.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, meanwhile, urged farmers to return to their homes, saying there was no point in continuing the agitation following the announcement of the decision to repeal the farm laws.

He said the farmers’ remaining demands too had been fulfilled since the Prime Minister had announced that a committee would be constituted to discuss crop diversification, zero-budget farming, and making the MSP system more transparent and effective.

He said the committee, which will also have representatives from farmers, will hold deliberations. The government, Tomar said, will propose repeal of the farm laws on the very first day of the winter session of Parliament.

On November 19, the Prime Minister announced the government’s intention to repeal the three farm laws — Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The farm unions, on the other hand, have pointed to their other demands, saying unless these too are fulfilled, their agitation will continue. These demands include legal guarantee of MSP, withdrawal of cases registered against farmers and compensation to those who died during the agitation.

The SKM said it had written a letter to the Prime Minister, demanding MSP legal guarantee.

“Minimum Support Price based on the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50%) should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce, so that every farmer of the country can be guaranteed at least the MSP announced by the government for their entire crop. (The Committee formed under your Chairpersonship had made this recommendation to the then Prime Minister in 2011 and your government had also announced this in the Parliament),” the SKM said in its letter dated November 21.

The protesters, the SKM said, will be staying at the Delhi border till there is a legal guarantee for MSP. A meeting will be held on December 4 to review government action, farmer unions said.

“When we announced the plan (to march to Parliament), the repeal had not been announced. They have assured us that the laws will be repealed in Parliament. We will wait for now. We have suspended and postponed the march. We have written to the PM about MSP, rehabilitation, compensation and withdrawal of pending cases, and a response is awaited,” BKU leader Darshan Pal said.

Leaders of the SKM urged the government to initiate discussions with farmer unions.

On the demand for withdrawal of cases registered against farmers, Tomar said: “As far as cases registered during the protest are concerned, these come under the jurisdiction of state governments and they will take a decision on the basis of the severity of the case concerned. The issue of compensation too comes under state governments. State governments will decide on the issue of compensation as per their policy.”

He said the farmer organisations had demanded that stubble burning by farmers be decriminalised and the Centre had accepted it.

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