The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions, on Tuesday said it has replied to the government's proposal seeking an end to its protest and demanded clarification on certain points, including on the precondition set for withdrawal of "fake" cases against farmers.
Farmer leaders said they will hold another meeting at 2 pm on Wednesday on the issue and take a final call on the farmers’ protest. Sources said that a major section of the SKM is in favour of calling off the agitation.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, too, said that the final decision on the farmers’ protest will be taken at the meeting on Wednesday. The farmers' union had called a meeting of its top leaders at the Singhu border on Tuesday to deliberate on the Centre's draft proposal. However, Tikait, who was attending an event in Uttarakhand, did not participate in the meeting.
When asked about the farm leaders saying that they had a positive talk with the government and are hopeful of a positive result, Tikait refused to comment and told India Today’s news portal that whatever needs to be decided, will be done on Wednesday.
The government's proposal says that it will form a committee to look into the demand for a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) and the panel will include farmer organisations outside the SKM, government officials and representatives of states. The SKM has objected to that.
"We had objections to it … we do not want other committees which have been against our demands since the start. We have also demanded the government give a clarification in this regard,” an SKM spokesperson said.
"We are also against the pre-condition set by the government that farm unions should lift the siege for the withdrawal of fake cases against farmers,’’ the spokesperson added.
The Centre’s written assurance states that the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister have already announced the formation of a committee consisting of representatives of the Centre, states, farmer organisations, and agriculture scientists on Minimum Support Price. "The SKM members will be part of the farmer representatives in the committee," the government conveyed to the SKM.
On the question of compensation for farmers who died during the protest, sources said: "The Centre mentioned that the Punjab government has already announced Rs 5 lakh, to which Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have in principle agreed." About the demand for withdrawal of the draft electricity bill, the Centre said that the opinion of all the stakeholders will be taken into account before tabling it in Parliament.
On the issue of penal action for burning of stubble, the government assured the SKM that farmers will be freed from criminal liabilities on the issue.