Farmer agitation: Centre issues ‘formal letter’ agreeing farmers’ demands

NEW DELHI, 9 Dec: The central government on Thursday sent a formal letter to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) agreeing to accept their pending demands and prompting the farmers’ body to suspend their over a year-long agitation.

Agriculture secretary Sanjay Aggrawal wrote the letter to the SKM and appealed to the farmers to call off their protest.

The letter referred to the five main demands of farmers which were pending after the three contentious farm laws were repealed in Parliament last month.

It stated that the Prime Minister and later the Union Agriculture Minister have announced to form a committee on MSP which will have as its member officials from central and state governments, representatives of farm unions, and agriculture scientists.

It is being clarified that this committee will also include members of SKM. The status quo will be maintained on procurement of crops on MSP in the country, the letter said.

The SKM, an umbrella body of 40 farm unions, on Thursday decided to suspend the farmers’ movement and announced farmers will return to their homes on December 11 from the protest sites on Delhi’s borders.

Farmer leaders said they will again meet on January 15 to see if the government has fulfilled their demands.

The letter also clarified that governments of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana have agreed to withdraw cases against farmers with immediate effect.

Cases registered against farmers and supporters in Delhi and Union Territories will also be withdrawn. The central government will appeal to other state governments too to start process to withdraw cases against protestors of the movement, the Centre said.

In the letter, the Centre informed farmers that Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments have given an in-principal approval to provide compensation to kin of family members of farmers who died during the agitation.

It also clarified that Electricity Amendment Bill will not be tabled in Parliament until government discusses provisions impacting farmers with SKM and other stakeholders.

Stubble burning has already been decriminalized, the central government letter said.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at the borders of the national capital since November 26 last year demanding repeal of the three farm laws.

On November 29, a bill was passed in Parliament to repeal the contentious farm laws, one of the main demands of the protesting farmers.

But the stalemate continued with the protesters demanding that the government fulfill their other demands that included a legal guarantee on the Minimum Support Price and withdrawal of cases against farmers.

On Tuesday, the Centre had sent a proposal to the SKM but it met with a demand from the body to clarify certain points in the government’s proposal, including the precondition set for the withdrawal of “fake” cases against farmers.

The Centre sent a revised proposal to the farmers’ body on Wednesday.

The SKM said that it had reached a consensus on the revised draft proposal of the Centre.

It, however, still demanded a formal communication from the Centre on its letterhead.

The movement was suspended on Thursday after the central government formally agreed to consider their demands. (PTI)