Centre trying to counter, destroy farmers' movement: SKM

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Wednesday accused the Centre of trying to 'counter and destroy' the farmers' movement against the new agri laws and said it has appealed for peaceful protests during the 'rail roko' agitation on February 18.

The statement of the umbrella body of protesting unions came a day after BJP chief J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah met party functionaries, MPs and MLAs from Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the wake of mahapanchayats being organised by farmer leaders.

During the meeting, the BJP leaders from the farm community of these states were asked to clear misconceptions about the laws, sources had said.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which had last week announced the rail blockade to press for its demand to repeal the legislations, said that it 'appeals to everyone for a peaceful protest in the nationwide 'rail roko' programme on February 18'.

Earlier, farmer unions had called a 'chakka jam' on February 6 and a 'tractor parade' in Delhi on January 26, during which a section of protesters clashed with police, overturned vehicles while some hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

'The (rail roko) programme will be organised from 12 pm to 4 pm in which support is expected from all over the country,' the SKM said in a statement.

The SKM has taken note of the high-level meeting of the BJP president, Shah and other ministers with elected party leaders from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, it said.

'It is clear that instead of resolving the ongoing struggle and demands, the BJP is trying its best to counter and destroy it. SKM condemns this attitude of the ruling party,' the SKM said.

It demanded that the government resolve farmers' issues immediately.

'SKM avows that it will intensify the struggle and mobilise more farmers in its support,' the outfit asserted.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and his cabinet colleague Sanjeev Balyan were also among those who attended the meeting called by Shah and Nadda on Tuesday.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at Delhi's borders against the legislations since November 28 last year and demanding these be repealed.

Their agitation is against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

In a mahapanchayat held in Bilari in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, the 'impressive' turnout of farmers in the public meeting indicated that the ongoing farmers' movement is gathering more strength, the SKM statement said.

The outfit also alleged an attack by an outfit on a 'peaceful' protest that was being organised by All India Krishak Khet Majdoor Sangathan in Muzaffarpur.

The banners, placards and sound system of the protestors were destroyed by the attackers, SKM said and alleged 'inaction' of the local police.

The farmers protests at Delhi borders continue as 11 rounds of talks between their leaders and the central government failed to break the deadlock.

The three farm laws, enacted in September last year, have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain. PTI VIT ANB ANB ANB