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As Protests Enter Day 25, Farmers Threaten UP Border Blockade: 10 Points

This is the biggest protest by farmers in years.

New Delhi:
As protests against the centre’s contentious agricultural laws near Delhi borders enter their 25th day, demonstrators have threatened to block Ghazipur border between Uttar Pradesh and the national capital. The warning to intensify protests comes amid assurances from the government on the minimum support price (MSP) for their agricultural produce, a concern repeatedly raised by the farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday yet again defended the new laws. “Agriculture reforms initiated six months back have started benefitting farmers,” he said without referring to the protests. Demonstrators today will also pay tributes to more than 20 people who have died since thousands started camping near Delhi borders since late November.

Here are 10 developments in this big story:

  1.  Amid protests at Delhi borders, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at the centre on Saturday and defended the middlemen in the state targeted in tax raids, saying these oppressive actions will backfire against the ruling BJP. A total of 14 Arhtiyas or farm agents across Punjab have received notices from the IT department.

  2. Protesters are not linked to any political party, one of the farmers’ bodies – the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee – said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday, news agency PTI reported. The remarks came after government accused the opposition parties of trying to mislead the protesters. 

  3. PM Modi on Saturday yet again spoke about the agricultural laws without referring to the protests. “There is a lot of content, including graphics and booklets that elaborate on how the recent Agro-reforms help our farmers. It can be found on the NaMo App Volunteer Module’s Your Voice and Downloads sections. Read and share widely,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

  4. His appeal yesterday came a day after he had said on Friday: “If anyone has any concerns, then with our heads bowed and our hands folded, with humility, we are willing to discuss with them and assuage their fears.”

  5. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday said: “In a day or two, there can be a way out for talks. The government is ready for discussion if farmer union leaders come forward beyond yes or no.” The comments came after he met with Agriculture Minister. A large number of farmers camping near the national capital are from Haryana and neighbouring Punjab. 

  6. Mr Tomar on Friday, in a similar assertion, said the deadlock may get resolved before the end of this year. He has held several rounds of talks with farmers leaders.

  7. The protesters have held at least two nationwide protests against farm laws since they started their agitation near Delhi late November. An all-India hunger strike was held on Monday, nearly a week after highways were blocked as a part of Bharat Bandh.

  8. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court said farmers protests can continue, stressing on the need to hold talks to resolve deadlock. “We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone’s life or property,” said Chief Justice SA Bobde

  9. “We are with the plight of farmers and sympathetic to their cause. But you have to alter the way it is going. You have to convince and bring out the solution,” the Chief Justice told the representatives of the Bharatiya Kisan Union present in the court.

  10. Voted through parliament in September with little debate, the laws only give an additional option to farmers to sell their produce, the government argues, but small farmers fear that once big corporate players enter the market, they will lose guarantees on prices.

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