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SKM seeks legal backing for MSP, repeal of electricity Bill

Farmer leaders also sought withdrawal of cases against farmers implicated during the movement

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to rollback the three contentious farm laws, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmer unions that is leading the agitation, on Sunday evening wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister demanding a legal guarantee of remunerative Minimum Support Price (MSP) and withdrawal of the draft of Electricity Amendments Bill, 2020/2021 while expressing the hope that the farmer leaders would be called for a discussion.

The letter also sought the removal of the penal provisions on farmers in the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021 and withdrawal of cases against thousands of farmers who have been implicated during the movement.

Describing Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni as “the mastermind of Lakhimpur Kheri murder case and accused of section 120B,” the letter said he should be sacked and arrested.

The SKM welcomed the decision on the repeal of the laws but noted that “after 11 rounds of talks, you [the Prime Minister] chose the path of unilateral declaration rather than a bilateral solution” and hoped that the government would fulfil the promise at the earliest and in full.

Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha and a member of the core committee of the SKM, said from the very beginning of the talks with the government, the Morcha had raised three additional demands, including legal entitlement to Minimum Support Price based on the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50%) for all agricultural produce.

“Without the guaranteed MSP, the farmer would not survive. It is one of the primary reasons for the farmers suicides across the country,” he told The Hindu, adding that the PM had taken the decision in his own “dramatic style without first taking clearance from the cabinet.

Mr Mollah further said the SKM hoped that the farmers would be called for a discussion. “We have always said that dialogue and discussion is the only way to break the impasse. If the PM doesn’t respond, we will review the situation in the November 27 meeting,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added, farmers would continue with their pre-decided agitation programme. This includes holding a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on Monday, observing the anniversary of the agitation on November 26 and marching to Parliament on November 29.

Earlier, addressing the media after a meeting of the core committee at the Singhu border, farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “In his Friday address, the PM was not clear about the rights, duties, and time frame of the committee to be formed on granting legal status to MSP.”

In a press note, the SKM said the farmers, who have been protesting peacefully for about a year now, are the ones who did the “true tapasya (penance) with faith”.

“This victory is not a question of someone’s pride or ego, but a matter of lives and livelihoods of millions of ignored and marginalised Indians,” he said.

The SKM pointed out that while the Modi government didn’t acknowledge the “heavy and avoidable sacrifices by around 700 brave farmers of the Kisan Andolan”, the Telangana government had stepped forward “to provide support to the kin of the martyrs.” While announcing support of ₹3 lakh rupees each per martyr family, the Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has also demanded that the Government of India pay ₹25 lakhs for each farmer family and also withdraw all cases.

The note also highlighted how BJP ministers and MLAs had been facing the ire of farmers.

In Haryana, when State Agriculture Minister J.P. Dalal reached Tosham for the inauguration event of a Court complex, farmers gathered in large numbers for a black flag protest. In eastern U.P., Maharajganj’s MLA Jai Mangal Kanojiya had to face the wrath of the locals on Saturday.

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