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Farmers’ protest called off as SKM leaders accept Centre’s proposal

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Thousands of agitating farmers, camped out on the borders of Delhi from past 380 days, are finally set to go home on Saturday, after marking a ‘vijay diwas’ to celebrate the achievement of most of their demands. Notably, on Thursday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a joint platform of protesting farm unions, announced that it had accepted the Central government’s proposal to resolve pending demands and called off the year-long agitation.

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The unions is scheduled to meet again on January 15 in the national capital to monitor and review whether the government has kept its promises to unconditionally withdraw cases filed against protestors, provide compensation for the kin of farmers who died at the protests and form a committee to ensure that all farmers can avail remunerative rates for their produce. A decision will also be taken at that time on whether to campaign against the BJP in the upcoming UP and Uttarakhand polls – an issue which different farmer factions have diverse views about.

“This is a historic victory for Indian farmers after a historic movement both in terms of size as well as unity and peaceful nature of the protest,” said All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Mollah.

“After today’s proposal from the government, I feel we have achieved 95% of the SKM’s demands,” added Krantikari Kisan Union leader Darshan Pal, pointing out that the Prime Minister’s sudden capitulation on the repeal of three farm laws was unexpected, but welcome.

Victory celebrations have been scheduled for Saturday, in respect for the cremation of CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat on Friday. At the Singhu site, a number of farmers had already begun packing up their temporary accommodations, although Uttar Pradesh leader Rakesh Tikait said it could take a while for all protestors to vacate the protest sites, especially in his Ghazipur stronghold.

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There were a few notes of caution as well. “Farmers have decided to suspend this agitation for now, but the movement will not end. The fight for farmers’ rights will continue,” said senior Punjab leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, who heads his own faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni, a Haryana leader who heads another BKU faction, warned, “We will resume our protests if the government does not keep its promises”.

The Centre’s formal proposal, which was signed by Agriculture Secretary, Sanjay Agarwal, despite the fact that farm leaders said most negotiations on the document were held with Home Ministry representatives, was received on Thursday morning. It included the same five points as in Wednesday’s draft, with major concessions on case withdrawal and compensation.

On the issue of MSP, it said a promised committee would have a specific mandate to ensure all farmers get MSP and promised that SKM leaders would be among the representatives. After discussing the proposal in an hour-long meeting at the Singhu border protest site, SKM leaders emerged to announce their acceptance.

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