New Delhi, January 15

Protesting farmer unions stuck to their demand for a complete repeal of three contentious farm laws at their ninth round of talks with three Central ministers while the government asked them to be more flexible in their approach and expressed willingness for necessary amendments, as the two sides decided to meet again on January 19.

Farmer leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan told reporters after the meeting that the unions urged the government to repeal the three laws, but the Centre was unwilling to do so.
“We decided to meet again on January 19 at 12 pm,” he said.

Ugrahan said the union leaders also raised the issue of NIA raids on transporters in Punjab who are supporting farmers’ protests and were providing logistic support for the agitation.

At the meeting that lasted for nearly five hours, including a lunch break, farmers unions said they are committed to continuing holding direct talks to resolve the over-one-month-long deadlock over three agri laws, even as a committee has been formed by the Supreme Court to resolve the deadlock.

In his opening remarks, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged farmer leaders to be flexible in their approach as has been done by the government.

Besides Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash were part of the government side talking with representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

“Both the government and farmer unions have reaffirmed their commitment to continue with the direct dialogue process,” All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee member Kavita Kuruganti, who is part of the meeting, said.

“In his opening remarks, Tomar ji said you keep saying that the government is adamant and making it an issue of ego, even though we have accepted several demands. Don’t you think you should be flexible and not stick to one single demand of repealing the laws,” said Baljit Singh Bali of Punjab Kisan Morcha.

Farmer leader Darshan Pal said there was a good discussion on all three laws. “There is a possibility of some resolution. We are positive,” he added.

Another leader Rakesh Tikait said: “Government has told us that solution should be found through dialogue and not a court. Everyone is of the same view. There is a possibility of some solution.”

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