Farmers block expressway near Indian capital to protest Modi's new laws

Farmers block expressway near Indian capital to protest Modi's new laws”

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which observed that there is no improvement on the ground regarding farmers' protests, was informed by the Centre that “healthy discussions” are going on between the government and farmers over these issues. "But the Supreme Court has every right to examine it", he told journalists after the meeting.

Pandita had moved the top court questioning the role of Centre, Delhi government and Delhi police for allowing the huge congregation, including foreign delegates at Nizamuddin Markaz, which risked the health of people amid Covid-19.

Sources said Friday's meeting witnessed heated exchanges between farmer leaders and the government interlocutors, which apart from Tomar, included Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and junior Commerce Minister Som Prakash. "This is a matter of the livelihoods of millions of farmers".

On inviting the farmers to support the laws in the ninth round of talks, Tomar said there was no such plan as of now but it can be looked into in the future if required. "It is a policy decision which should be taken in consultation with farmers". In that case, please give us a clear answer and we will go. "We reiterated that we don't want amendments, and will only accept a total repeal".

The meeting got off to a tense start, with the Centre saying it can not and will not repeal the three laws, as it needs to look at the interests of the whole country, including other farmers groups which support the laws.

The agitating farmers took out tractor rallies on Thursday to press their demand for a rollback of the laws, while the Centre asserted that it was ready to consider any proposal other than a repeal of the legislations.

At this point, Balbir Singh Rajewal who heads his own faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, raised his voice and shouted, accusing the government of being adamant.

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Shouting anti-government slogans as they sat astride their tractors, thousands of farmers clogged up a major highway into India's capital Thursday as they warned their month-long protest would not stop until recent agriculture reforms are repealed.

The Supreme Court will hear petitions challenging the new laws and those against the ongoing protests on January 11.

During the meeting that began at 2:45 pm in Vigyan Bhawan, farmers carried placards reading, "Either we will die or win" and "Qanoon wapas toh hum ghar wapas (repeal farm laws, we will return home)". The farmer leaders also refused to take a lunch break and stayed put in the room.

"I am hopeful that a resolution will be reached at Friday's meeting". They can lathicharge us, or shoot at us, we don't care.

Thousands of farmers staged a tractor march from their camps on Delhi's borders to converge on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway on January 7, ahead of a planned march to the Capital on Republic Day. "Perhaps they will listen to us then". However, protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

"We do not want anything less than the repeal of laws", he said.

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