CHANDIGARH: Two days after farmer organisations in Punjab called for a blockade of national highways across the country for six hours on November 3, the Centre has once again invited them for talks on October 14. The protesting farmers had already rejected such an offer for talks slated on October 8.
Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, shot off a letter to the farmer bodies on October 10 stating that the government was very serious about addressing their concerns regarding the new farm laws. He invited them for talks on October 14 at 11.30 am at the ministry.
A decision on whether to accept the invitation will be taken at a meeting in Jalandhar on October 13, the farmer leaders said.
“Though the invite has come from the agriculture ministry, but this time it says that the Central government wants to have a dialogue,” a senior farmer leader said.
The farmers’ agitation has disrupted rail traffic and severely impacted coal supply for thermal power plants in Punjab. They have been holding a ‘rail roko’ agitation against the “anti-farmer” laws, with protesters squatting on railway tracks at various places in the state since September 24.
Farmers have expressed apprehension that new laws will destroy the MSP mechanism, end Agricultural Produce Market Committees.