Welcoming the suspension of the newly enacted agriculture laws, farmer unions opposed to the laws announced Tuesday that they would not participate in the consultation process to be initiated by a four-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court to resolve the standoff.
The unions maintained they would only settle for the repeal of the laws, and their protest would continue until that demand was met — lawyers who represented the unions Monday, Dushyant Dave, H S Phoolka, and Colin Gonsalves, were not present in the Supreme Court Tuesday when the order was delivered.
In a statement, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the protests by farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi since November 26, said: “We noted that the Court has ordered suspension of implementation of the laws temporarily. Suspending the implementation of the laws as an interim measure is welcome, but is not a solution and the farmer unions have not been asking for this solution, given the fact that the implementation can be reinstated… The Government must repeal the laws.”
The Morcha said it would not participate in “any such committee process”.
“It is clear that the Court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the 3 Acts and have actively advocated for the same,” the statement said.
Krantikari Kisan Union president Darshan Pal told a press conference: “We had said yesterday if the Supreme Court makes a committee, it will not be acceptable to us… We knew the government would take the burden off its shoulders. Our demand is for repeal of the laws. Tomorrow we will celebrate Lohri… we will burn the laws. The boycott of Adani, Ambani goods will also continue.”
Balbir Singh Rajewal of BKU (Rajewal) claimed all members of the SC-appointed committee were “pro-government”.
“We had said yesterday itself that we will not present ourselves before a committee… All members of the committee are pro-government… We cannot accept such a committee. Even principally, we believe committees are just a way to divert attention… (from) the government so that pressure is lifted from them, and we keep fighting in the court,” he said.
The January 26 tractor parade to Delhi, he said, will go ahead as planned and will be “completely peaceful”.
Jagmohan Singh of BKU (Dakaunda) said the farmers were not in favour of the stay as it was a temporary solution. “We had said our protest will be indefinite, and it will still be indefinite. Aaj 5 raaste ruke hain, kal shayad 10 raaste rukenge (today five roads are blocked, tomorrow may be 10 will be blocked),” he said.
Prem Singh Bhangu of the All India Kisan Federation said: “Laws were not made by the Supreme Court. They were made by the BJP government. They need to repeal it. This is a fight between the people and the government, we don’t want the onus shifted from the government.”
Jhanda Singh Jethuke of BKU (Ugrahan) said: “The four-member committee formed by the Supreme Court comprises people in favour of the farm laws. Hence, we don’t expect anything from this committee. Although we are yet to see the SC order, all I can say is that we respect the court’s decision to stay the implementation, but our main demand is to repeal the laws and we stand by that demand even now.”
“The government had asked us to form a committee and we had rejected that. Hence, no point talking about this committee now. Agriculture is a state subject and the government has violated the rights of the states by making these illegal laws. The court can repeal these laws on this basis,” he said.
Satnam Singh Pannu of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (Punjab) said: “Repeal is the demand with which we came to Delhi and it remains the same. Staying the farm laws is a welcome step, but we will stay in Delhi till the laws are repealed. They can beat us or forcibly remove us from the dharna site, but we will not vacate it on our own. As of now, all protesting unions are on the same page, but even if everyone moves out, we will stay on till the laws are repealed. The panel members include Bhupinder Singh Mann from Majha, the belt from where I come. He has been supporting political parties during elections. We will not appear before the panel. The laws are a policy matter between farmer unions and the government, the court directions will only prolong the issue.”
Ajmer Singh Lakhowal of BKU (Lakhowal) said: “I used to work as general secretary of BKU when Mann used to be its president in the 1980s. He has already written in favour of the farm laws. Our 32 farmers organisations have decided not to appear before any committee and we will stick to the decision. Our demand is repeal of the laws as the stay order can be vacated anytime. We are going to continue our protest, rather we will intensify it.”