Hours after agreeing to Pinarayi Vijayan’s resolution against Centre’s farm laws, BJP’s lone member in Kerala Assembly, O Rajagopal, backtracked saying the reform laws are good for farmers
Expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers in Delhi, the Kerala Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of the three contentious central laws as the farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders entered its 36th day.
Meanwhile, Haryana Police on Thursday used a water cannon and tear gas as farmers on tractor-trailers broke through barricades at the Shahjahanpur border with Rajasthan, trying to push towards the National Capital. While farmers on around 25 tractor-trailers pushed past the Haryana Police barriers, others stayed behind on the Rajasthan side of the Shahjahanpur-Rewari border, police told PTI.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at the National Capital’s borders with Uttar Pradesh at Chilla and Ghazipur as they demand a repeal of the three contentious farm laws. The borders are shut for those travelling from Noida and Ghaziabad.
The protestors said that the laws will dismantle regulated markets, and hurt their livelihoods by making them vulnerable to big corporations. They want the laws to be scrapped. The Centre has refused to address the demand for repealing the laws. It did, however, offer to make amendments to certain sections along with a written guarantee on MSP.
On Wednesday, the Centre held the sixth meeting with farmers, following which it said that it has arrived at a consensus on two out of four matters flagged by the protestors. The next round of talks will be held on 4 January.
Farmers break police barricades on Haryana-Rajasthan border
A group of protesting farmers from Rajasthan broke through police barricades on the Haryana-Rajasthan border on Thursday. These farmers are on their way to Delhi to join others who have been protesting against the Central Government’s new farm laws for more than one month.
The Haryana Police used water cannon and tear gas as farmers on tractor-trailers broke through barricades at the Shahjahanpur border with Rajasthan, trying to push towards the National Capital.
While farmers on around 25 tractor-trailers pushed past the Haryana Police barriers, others stayed behind on the Rajasthan side of the Shahjahanpur-Rewari border, police said.
Farmers have been on a dharna at the site, blocking the road for several days in protest over the three new agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre.
— ANI_HindiNews (@AHindinews) December 31, 2020
Farmer leaders at the site made clear that the protesters who forced their way into Haryana did not have their consent.
Kisan Mahapanchayat president Rampal Jat said the agitation was going on peacefully but some of the farmers forcibly entered Haryana, which was not expected of them.
Haryana Police officials said a group of farmers, mostly youths, broke through the barricades set up by them in a bid to move towards Delhi.
The Haryana Police tried to stop them using a water cannon and tear gas even as their leaders urged them not to go towards the National Capital, they said.
Police said the group broke through the barricades with their tractors and a few of them managed to enter the state’s territory though they were stopped after some distance.
There were some young elements who came with tractors and broke through the barricades. We tried to stop them and gently persuade them. However, they were very aggressive and turned violent. They were not even listening to farmer leaders, Rewari Superintendent of Police Abhishek Jorwal told PTI over the phone.
Another police officer said the group became violent and at least one of them tried to drive his tractor in a very reckless manner, endangering lives of police personnel and some others who tried to stop it.
He said there were nearly 25 tractors, which broke the police barricades at Shahjahanpur.
Meanwhile, farmer leaders at Shahjahanpur called for peace in the agitation.
“We are sitting here peacefully and asking our members not to resort to violence,” Kisan Mahapanchayat president Rampal Jat said. “We have sent some of our members to talk to those who entered Haryana to convince them to return,” Jat added. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal said it was done by some overexcited youths.
Kerala Assembly passes resolution against new farm laws
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan moved the resolution at a special session on Thursday which was unanimously passed by the House with the ruling LDF, Opposition Congress-led UDF, and the BJP supporting it.
The resolution introduced by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was passed by voice vote and alleged that the central laws have been amended to help the corporates.
The Centre had presented and passed the three agriculture laws in the Parliament at a time when the agriculture sector was facing a severe crisis, he said.
“The three contentious agri laws were passed even without sending them to the standing committee of Parliament. If this agitation continues, it will severely affect Kerala, which is a consumer state,” he said.
Stating that the reforms in the field of agriculture should be carefully envisioned, he said with the implementation of the new laws, the bargaining power of farmers would be weakened, giving an advantage to the corporate sector.
The laws did not have any provision to ensure legal protection for farmers, Vijayan said adding that they do not have the capacity to wage a legal battle with the corporates for this.
It was clear that the major cause of the agitation was the possible price drop for agriculture products due to these laws, he added.
As agriculture is the state subject and it is an issue which directly affects the states, the Union Government should have convened the meetings of inter-state committees and held detailed consultations, he said.
“So, the Kerala Assembly requests the Centre to accept the justifiable demands raised by farmers, who are the backbone of the country, and take immediate steps to withdraw the three controversial farm laws,” Vijayan added.
BJP’s lone MLA in Kerala backtracks after supporting resolution
Hours after agreeing to Pinarayi Vijayan’s resolution against Centre’s farm laws, BJP’s lone Kerala MLA, O Rajagopal, on Thursday, backtracked on his stand.
The BJP MLA first spoke in favour of the agricultural laws during the Assembly session. “These laws are for the benefit and protection of farmers – to do away with middlemen and commission agents,” he told the Assembly. “These laws give rights to farmers to sell their produce anywhere.”
The MLA, however, did not oppose the resolution against the laws. He told reporters after the Assembly session that he supported the resolution. “I agree with the substance of the resolution,” Rajagopal said.
Rajagopal was also told that he may be contradicting his party’s stand. “This may not be party stand,” he said in response. “These compromises are a part of a democratic system. We must go with the consensus. Before that consensus is formalised, I put my difference of opinions before people.”
Hours later, he issued a statement saying that he opposed the resolution. “I have clearly stated my stand in the Assembly during my speech,” he said, according to News18.
“I am not opposing the Centre’s bill and have not opposed the Central Government. This bill is good for farmers. I have even said that PM [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] is always ready for talks but the pre-condition by protesters to repeal the laws for talks, has delayed the process.”
FICCI seeks Punjab chief secretary’s intervention on Jio towers vandalism
Industry body FICCI has written to Punjab Chief Secretary to intervene in incidents of “vandalism” of Jio’s mobile towers, as it urged the state to step up efforts to ensure that such incidents do not occur.
FICCI, in the recent communication, said that with 1,800 towers being “vandalised”, the subscriber traffic load is likely to shift to other towers in the vicinity, which could impact the quality of calls and internet data speeds there.
“The impact is also likely to be felt on services of other providers since calls landing on and originating from Jio’s networks may face congestion due to lesser number of cell sites,” said Rajinder Gupta, chairman, FICCI Regional Advisory Council in the communication dated 28 December.
Such incidents also “discourage” the industry from expanding its reach in the state.
“Against this backdrop, FICCI humbly requests for your kind intervention to take immediate action against the miscreants who caused this damage, and prevention of any further damage…,” said the communication addressed to Chief Secretary of Punjab, Vini Mahajan.
With its telecom infrastructure in the state being damaged amid farmers’ protest, Reliance Jio had recently written to Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh seeking his intervention for action against those responsible for the incidents of “sabotage and vandalism”.
With inputs from PTI
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