NEW DELHI: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha spearheading the agitation against the Centre's three agri laws said on Saturday that there was no question of closing the door on talks with the government.
The farmer union's statement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting earlier in the day that his government's offer on agri laws made to the protesting farmers "still stands" and it was a "phone call away" for talks.
The protesting farmer leaders observed 'Sadbhavana Diwas' on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary and held a day-long fast at various protest sites on Delhi borders.
According to a release issued by Morcha leader Darshan Pal, "Farmers have come all the way to the doorsteps of Delhi to converse with their elected government and therefore, there is no question of the farmer organisations closing the door on talks with the government."
The last meeting between representatives of protesting farmers and the Centre was held on January 22.
The unions continue to seek repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, the Morcha statement said.
Prime Minister Modi told the all-party meeting that his government's offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers "still stands" and it was a "phone call away" for talks, days after the violence during farmers' tractor rally in the national capital on Republic Day.
The Morcha also "condemned" alleged attempts of police to "weaken and destroy" the farmers movement.
"It is clear that the police is encouraging various attacks on peaceful protesters. The continuous violence by police and BJP goons clearly shows the palpable fear within the government," Pal claimed in the statement.
The one-day fast was observed at all borders of Delhi and all over India.
The farmers took a pledge to continue their movement peacefully, the statement said.
Reports of farmers observing farmers in various parts of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and other states were received, it said.
In Bihar, Sadbhavana Diwas was marked with long human chains in different districts of the state including Muzaffarpur and Nalanda, it added.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh demanding the rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protest took a violent turn during the farmers' tractor rally on January 26.
Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and ruled out a repeal of the laws.