As protests against the three central farm laws entered the 17th day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said his government was committed to helping farmers, and the recent reforms would give them access to new markets and technology, and help increase investments in the agricultural sector.
Addressing the 93rd Annual Convention of FICCI, PM Modi said that with the new laws in place, farmers would have the option to sell their crops in mandis or to outside parties.
“The government is committed to protecting the interests of farmers through its policies and intentions. The recent farm laws will give farmers new markets, access to technology and help bring investments in agriculture,” he said. “Farmers now have the option to sell their crops in mandis as well as to outside parties.”
Farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders since November 26. Several rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions have taken place. Despite considerable concessions made by the Centre, farmers have been steadfast in their demand that the laws be repealed.
The last round of talks, scheduled on December 9, was cancelled after a meeting between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and representatives of farm unions.
Intensifying their protest against the Centre’s new agriculture laws, farmers took over some toll plazas in Haryana on Saturday, not allowing authorities to collect fees from commuters. The agitating farmers had earlier said they would picket toll plazas to press their demand for a repeal of the three new laws, which were pushed through in Parliament in September despite strong protests by opposition parties.
More than 100 farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders Malkit Singh and Manish Chaudhry redhead a toll plaza on the Ambala-Hisar highway, around 15 km from Ambala city and raised slogans demanding the repeal of the farm laws. The toll plaza staff allowed vehicles to pass through without paying any charge.
A large police fopce was deployed at the toll plaza to avoid any untoward incident. Farmers also did not allow the collection of fees from commuters at Bastara and Peont toll plazas in Karnal. While the Bastara toll plaza is located on NH-44, the Peont toll plaza is located on the Karnal-Jind highway.
(With inputs from PTI)
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