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One year down the line, the great budge: Modi announces repeal of three farm laws

New Delhi, Nov 19 (MNN) In a huge victory for farmers who have been protesting for nearly a year on Delhi borders against the three “black” farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that his government had decided to repeal the three controversial statutes.

In an unexpected announcement during his address to the nation this morning which coincided with the 552nd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, Modi said that the necessary action to repeal the laws would be taken up in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

The Prime Minister said that the process for cancellation of the laws had been set in motion.

He claimed that his government had always worked for farmers’ welfare, particularly small farmers.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha – spearheading the agitation by farmers on Delhi borders since November 26 last year — reacted with caution, pointing out that a legal guarantee for remunerative price for all crops and issues pertained to Electricity Act still remain to be resolved.

On November 16, Home Minister Amit Shah had announced the reopening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor to allow Sikh and other pilgrims to undertake pilgrimage to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, which marks the final resting place of Sikhism found Guru Nanak Dev ji and where the holy man spent the last 18 years of his life.

After the government led by the BJP had steamrolled the three farm laws through Parliament while ignoring opposition protests, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and other Cabinet colleagues had held parleys with the farmer leaders to break the deadlock but to no avail. The last of the nearly 12 rounds of talks between the two sides was held in January this year.

The Supreme Court had stayed the three laws — Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance & Farm Services Act 2020, Farmers Produce Trade & Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act and Amendment to Essential Commodities Act in January this year.

The apex court had also set up a panel to hear all stakeholders and submit a report on the same. The report was submitted in the court in March.

Thousands of farmers had picketed the roads leading to the national capital on Delhi borders in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh from November 26 last year.

The protesters had refused to budge unless and until the government took back the laws which they said favoured the corporates. They were also seeking a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price for crops.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said: “On the special occasion of Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, I recall his pious thoughts and noble ideals. His vision of a just, compassionate and inclusive society inspires us. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s emphasis on serving others is also very motivating.”

Modi also posted tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary.

Later, reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders said they welcomed the government decision but “will wait for the announcement to take effect through due parliamentary procedures”.

“If this happens, it will be a historic victory of the one-year-long struggle by farmers in India. However, nearly 700 farmers have been martyred in this struggle. The central government’s obstinacy is responsible for these avoidable deaths, including the murders at Lakhimpur Kheri,” the farmer leaders said.

The SKM reminded the Prime Minister that the agitation by farmers is not just to get repealed the three “black” laws, but also to ensure “statutory guarantee on remunerative prices for all agricultural produce and for all farmers”.

“This important demand of farmers is still pending. So also is the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill. The SKM will take note of all developments, hold its meeting soon and announce further decisions, said an SKM statement issued by farmer leaders Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’, and Yudhvir Singh.

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