NEW DELHI: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Thursday announced that it is calling off its protest after the central government accepted its pending demands, bringing a relief to many including travellers, daily commuters as well as goods transporters who had to shift routes from the National Highway 1 for last more than one year.
The SKM, the umbrella body of the farmers, addressed a press conference at Singhu border to announce its decision. The SKM had continued its protest even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had repealed the three farm bills on Guru Nanak Birthday on November 19 and later government had withdrawn in the Parliament.
“The government through the secretary, ministry of Agriculture & farmers’ welfare, has sent a formal letter to SKM agreeing to several pending demands of the protesting farmers. (And so) SKM formally announces the lifting of the morchas at Delhi Borders on national highways and various other locations in response”, said the SKM.
The New Indian team spoke to several farmers between Kurukshetra to Panipat while travelling on the road on the announcement.
“We are happy that the government has accepted all our demands and we thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But we are hurt as many of our members have died while participating the protest and while going there. We will go to Delhi Singhu border tomorrow to bring back our tractor trolleys and other equipments so that we can use them in our farms for cultivation,” Aman a farmer from Kurukshetra told The New Indian.
“First of all I want to thank the government and we are happy. I also pray and thank God for making us successful in our protest as we had lost so many members,” Manpreet said, while speaking to The New Indian.
The SKM though maintained that even though current agitation stands suspended, as battle has been won but separately war to ensure farmers’ rights, especially to secure MSP as a legal entitlement for all farmers, will continue.
The demands include quashing of the FIRs registered against farmers; payment of compensation to kin of farmers who died during year long protest by UP and Haryana government (Punjab government is already providing compensation); government to discuss the Electricity Amendment Bill with farmers before taking it for passage in Parliament; and setting up of a committee to discuss MSP with members of SKM on board.
The government has reportedly also agreed to clear farmers from criminal liability under clause 14 and 15 from Air Pollution Bill, in addition to issuing an appeal to all state governments to quash FIRs registered against farmers during the farmers protest.
Giving details on the formation of a committee on MSP, the government in its letter to the SKM has reportedly shared that the committee would include representatives of Central government, state governments, farmers’ bodies including members of SKM and agricultural scientists. This committee would have the mandate to find a way to provide MSP to farmers across the country.
During the earlier meetings with the farmers’ body, the government had earlier ensured that till the time the MSP issue is sorted, the current procuring system of crops will continue.
The farmers’ body also dedicated the ”fabulous and historic victory of the struggle” to around 715 martyrs of the movement, including those killed in Lakhimpur Kheri.
While congratulating all the protesting farmers and their supporters for waging an unprecedented struggle, SKM said the farmers’ unity, peace and patience has been the key to the victory. It further said that SKM will stay alert and ensure that promises are kept.
The SKM said that it will not celebrate its victory as the country is mourning the death of CDS Bipin Rawat and his associates.
Celebratory rallies will be taken out on December 11, when farmers leave the protest sites together in victory rallies. To ensure that the government keeps its commitments, and to chart out future courses of action, SKM will hold its next meeting on January 15 in Delhi.