SKM writes open letter to Narendra Modi on pending demands
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha on Sunday sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a dialogue with the government on the farmers’ pending demands.
The letter is a formal response to Modi’s surprise overture of announcing that the three contentious farm laws will be repealed, and informs him the farmers will continue their protest pending the resolution of their remaining demands through discussion.
The letter was sent at night, hours after the general body of the SKM — the collective leadership of the farmers’ movement — met at the Singhu border.
In the letter, the SKM has stressed that the Prime Minister knows the agitation was not just for the repeal of the three laws. It mentions the demands for a law guaranteeing minimum support prices, the withdrawal of the Electricity Bill, and the scrapping of anti-farmer provisions in the law to control pollution in the National Capital Region.
To these, the SKM has added issues that cropped up during the course of the protest: the “fake” cases registered against protesting farmers in several BJP-ruled states, compensation for the farmers who died during the protest, and the arrest and dismissal of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni for his alleged role in the “Lakhimpur Kheri massacre”.
The letter also reveals why the farmers are reluctant to take the Prime Minister’s assurance at face value, pointing out that the government included the Electricity Bill in its agenda for Parliament despite promising farmers during discussions that it would be withdrawn.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s appeal to farmers to return to their homes and farms, the SKM said: “We would like to assure you that we are not interested in sitting on the streets. We would like to return home to our families and farms as early as possible. If you also want this to happen, then the government should start discussions with the SKM on these six issues. Till then, the SKM will continue with our movement.”
Earlier in the day, the SKM’s general body endorsed the core group’s decision to continue with the agitation and mobilise farmers for Monday’s Lucknow mahapanchayat and other programmes scheduled to mark the movement’s first anniversary on November 26.
The general body will meet again on Saturday to decide the farmers’ next course of action depending on this week’s developments. The farmers’ future strategy will be determined by the government’s response not just to their programmes during the week but also to their call for dialogue.
This is the second time the SKM has called for dialogue since the breakdown of the talks in January after 11 meetings, one of them with Union home minister Amit Shah. The government did not respond to the earlier offer.
On criticism that the farmers’ list of demands has been growing, Abhimanyu Kohar of the Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh told The Telegraph that the SKM had demanded an MSP law and withdrawal of the Electricity Bill right from the beginning along with the repeal of the three farm laws.
“As for the withdrawal of false cases, compensation for the martyrs of the movement, and arrest and dismissal of the minister, these are issues that came up during the course of the movement and will have to be part of the resolution,” Kohar said.