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Farmers vow to press on with New Delhi rally

By APARAJIT CHAKRABORTY in New Delhi | China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-19 10:59
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Farmers participate in a tractor rally to protest against the newly passed farm bills, on a highway on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Jan 7, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

With vague support from the Supreme Court and no substantial progress in talks, Indian farmer unions protesting government farm laws insist they will hold a tractor rally inside New Delhi on Jan 26, India's Republic Day.

"Our rally on Jan 26 will be peaceful," said Hannan Mollah, a senior farmer leader.

The central government has filed a plea to the top court for an injunction against the tractor rally or other activities that may "disrupt" the festival.

The Supreme Court last week stayed the implementation of the three laws against which several petitions have been filed challenging their constitutional validity.

"The court's order is a moral and political defeat for the government," said R Ramakumar, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development chair professor and economist at the Tata Institute of Social Science.

Former federal government minister and economist Y. K. Alagh said the top court's decision is very sensible.

"They (judges) said you (central government) must do adequate preparation because the farm laws were passed in a big hurry," Alagh said.

Ramakumar said the government has admitted that more discussions could have been organized with farmers before enacting the laws.

The ninth round of talks between the government and protesting farmers over the three laws registered no breakthrough on Friday. Both sides are to meet again on Tuesday.

For seven weeks, thousands of farmers have choked the capital's four main entry points. The protests caused more damage to businesses across northern India at a time when the country's economy is already suffering.

The farmers have stood firm on repealing the laws while the government urged them to be more flexible.

The top court also announced the formation of a committee to hear the grievances of the farmers and the opinion of the government to resolve the impasse over the farm laws enacted by New Delhi in September.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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