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Union ministers start 11th round of talks with protesting farmer unions over new laws


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NEW DELHI: The eleventh round of talks between protesting farmer unions and three central ministers got underway here on Friday to break the nearly two-month-long deadlock on the three new agri laws. In the last round of meeting held on Wednesday, the government yielded some ground in its bid to end the farmers' protest on various border points of the national capital.

The Centre had offered to put on hold the three laws for 12-18 months and also set up a joint committee to find solutions. However, the farmer unions on Thursday rejected the government's offer and remained stuck to their two major demand -- repeal of three farm laws and legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP).

Farmers group said they will continue protest and also hold tractor rally on January 26, the Republic Day.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash are holding the talks with the representatives of 41 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

"In a full general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha..., the proposal put forth by the government...was rejected. A full repeal of three central farm acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement," Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of protesting unions, had said in a statement on Thursday.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws.

Farmer groups have alleged these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.

On January 11, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann had recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.

Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat and agriculture economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati, the other three members on the panel, started the consultation process with stakeholders on Thursday.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)