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Farm agitation ends after Govt agrees to demands

ew Delhi, Dec 9: Farmers who were protesting at the Singhu and Tikri borders have decided to end their stir after the government on Thursday formally agreed to their list of demands.

They include representations from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in the committee on Minimum Support Price (MSP), compensation to family members of all those who died during the agitation and unconditional withdrawal of all cases against the farmers lodged during the farm agitation.

Addressing media, the farm union leaders threatened to relaunch their protest from January 15, 2022, if the government reneges on its assurances.

"We have decided to suspend our agitation. We will hold a review meeting on January 15. If the government doesn't fulfill its promises, we could resume our agitation," farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni said.

The union leaders said they will be vacating the sites and leaving for their homes by December 11, even as TV footage showed the makeshift tents were being pulled down since Thursday morning.

Since the last few days, there was a palpable sense of positive vibe at the protest site as it was becoming clearer that a thaw was in the site between the government and the farm leaders.

An indication in this regard came from the Supreme Court on December 7 when both the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, in a rare show of camaraderie in the courtroom, made a joint plea to defer hearing a petition on the removal of the protesting farmers from the boarders.

That the agitation was likely to be called off became almost certain on Wednesday when the Centre sent a draft proposal to the five-member committee of SKM to end their agitation. The proposal was sent back to the government as farmers stuck to their grounds not to call off the agitation till the cases are withdrawn. Earlier, last week the leaders also held a meeting with the Home Minister Amit Shah.

At about 11 am on Thursday, Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal sent the formal letter, agreeing to almost all the demands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 19 announced the withdrawal of the now-repealed three farm laws. This had set the stage for the end of the farm agitation, but the farm leaders had said they will continue with the agitation till the other demands are met. They included a guarantee mechanism on MSP.

In his letter, the agriculture secretary has said: “It is being made clear that representatives from the SKM will also be included. One of the mandates of the committee will be how to assure MSP for farmers”.

He said the Prime Minister and the agriculture minister have already announced the setting up of a committee with representatives from the Centre, the states, agriculture unions and agriculture experts.

As far as cases against the farmers are concerned, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have agreed that all cases related to the agitation will be taken back. All other cases against the farmers by different government departments, agencies will be taken back with immediate effect, Agarwal said in his letter.

On the contentious electricity amendment bill, the secretary said that it will be introduced in Parliament only after holding deliberations with the SKM and other stakeholders.