New Delhi, January 19

Ahead of the tenth round of talks between agitating farmers and union ministers, members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee to deliberate with stakeholders concerned the three contentious farm laws on Tuesday held their first meeting.

The three members, Ashok Gulati (former CACP chairman) Anil Ghanwat (president of the Shetkari Sanghatana) and Pramod Joshi (former Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute), said personal views on the three laws notwithstanding, they will do their assignment (which is to present views of all sides to the SC) with complete objectivity and impartiality.

“We will try to convince the agitating farmers (who have already rejected the committee) to depose before them,” Ghanwat said

The fourth member appointed by the SC, BKU’s Bhupinder Singh Mann, had recused himself from the committee following widespread criticism. Today the members discussed the road-map of activities for the Committee for two months to prepare recommendations. Members said they will hold discussions with farmers and farmer organisations, both pro and against the farm laws.

The committee will send invitations to farmers unions and associations to discuss their views. Individual farmer can also submit his/her views on the portal to be notified soon. It will also hold discussions with State Governments, State Marketing Boards and other stakeholders like Farmer Producer Organisations, and Cooperatives, etc. Those who cannot meet personally can post suggestions on the website.

The committee is keen to understand the opinion on the subject of all concerned so that it can give suggestions which will definitely be in the interests of the farmers of India. “It will be a ‘nishpaksh’ (unbiased) committee. We have not been asked to give our views. Our responsibility is to present the views of farmers and stakeholders which we will do with complete impartiality,” they said.

Meanwhile, farmers also made it clear that they will hold a peaceful tractor rally on January 26 “inside Delhi” and that there is no scope of compromise on the issue. Jagmohan Singh Patiala of BKU (Dakaunda) said they told the Delhi police that farmers are preparing for a peaceful march (of tractors and trolleys with tricolours and unions’ flags and tableaux portraying lifestyle of farmers) on the Outer Ring Road and that there will be no change in the route plan.

Another meeting is planned with Delhi police officials tomorrow. The Delhi police are believed to have asked unions to choose an alternative route, citing traffic and other constraints.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha leader Yogendra Yadav said the day will go down in the history of the movement as an example of a peaceful protest and strength and resolve of farmers. “We are clear on three points, one, the parade will be on the planned route and there is no scope for a change in that; two, it will be inside Delhi; and three, it will be completely peaceful,” he said.

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