Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday said some ‘anti-social elements’ are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants’ movement under the guise of farmers and appealed the protesting farming community to be vigilant against their platform being misused.
He also said the government is sensitive towards farmers and is in discussion with them and their representatives to resolve their concerns.
‘A proposal to resolve the farmers’ objection has also been sent to the farmers union and the government is ready for further discussion,’ Tomar tweeted.
Tagging a media report about posters coming up at farmers’ Tikri Border protest site demanding release of some activists arrested under various charges, Tomar said, ‘Anti-social elements are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasant movement under the guise of farmers.’
‘I appeal to the peasant brothers to be vigilant and not provide their platform to such anti-social elements,’ he added.
Farmer leaders had on Thursday insisted that their ongoing protest against the Centre’s new farm laws was ‘apolitical’, after photos of protestors at the Tikri Border went viral in which they were seen holding posters demanding the release of writers, intellectuals and rationalists, arrested under various charges, on the occasion of the Human Rights Day.
Addressing a press conference at Singhu border, another protest site, farmer leaders said that they had refused many political leaders to use their platform.
When asked about supporters of a farmers union at Tikri border demanding the release of writers, intellectuals, and rationalists by displaying posters of people like Umar Khalid and Sudha Bharadwaj among others, who had been arrested under several charges, the leaders they were not sure of what went on at Tikri border.
They said that the incident at the Tikri border may be the farmers’ way of observing Human Rights Day.
Thousands of farmers have been staying put at Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla (Delhi-Noida) — for nearly two weeks against the Centre’s new farm laws.
In September, former Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ leader Khalid was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for his alleged role in the February northeast Delhi riots.
Delhi Police had in November filed a supplementary charge sheet in a court here against Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case related to the alleged larger conspiracy in the communal violence.
The government had on Thursday asked farmer groups to reconsider its proposals for amending the Acts to address their concerns and said it was open to discussing its offer further whenever the unions want, but protesters remained defiant and threatened to block railway tracks too in addition to highways.
At least five rounds of formal talks have taken place between the central government and representatives of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, but the deadlock has continued with the unions sticking to their main demand for the repeal of the three contentious laws and repeatedly rejecting the Centre’s offer to make some changes in law and give written assurances or clarifications on few issues such as MSP and mandi systems.
When asked at a press conference on Thursday whether there was some other force behind the protest, Tomar did not give any direct reply and had said: “Media’s eyes are sharp and we will leave to it to find out.”
“The press has to explore and use your investigation skills to find out,” Food, Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said in reply to a similar question.
“We believe that the farmers had certain issues. We respect farmers came and discussed with us. We tried to address the issues that came up during the course of the discussion.
“If there are other issues which are to be discussed or need clarification on the current proposal, we are ready for that. Whether there is any other reason holding them back, we will leave that to your wise counsel,” Goyal added.