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Farmers in India agree to meet with the government about the new laws they want to repeal

Farmers in India agree to meet with the government about the new laws they want to repeal

Leaders of Indian farmers' unions agreed to meet with federal ministers on Tuesday, possibly paving the way for the seventh round of talks with the government that so far has failed to appease producers who say three new farm laws threaten their means of life.

Concerned about 24-hour sit-ins by farmers outside New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government invited protest leaders for further talks on Thursday.

Farmers unions still insist they want the laws repealed, a coalition of unions called Samyukta Kisan Morcha said in a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture on Saturday.

“We have decided to hold talks and we are making a proposal. Our proposal is that the talks between farmers' representatives and the central government take place on December 29 at 11 am, ”said Yogendra Yadav of the Swaraj India organization.

Reading the letter sent to the government, Yadav said that the first item on the meeting's agenda should be the modalities of repeal of the three laws, which came into force in September.

The government says the laws will free farmers from having to sell their produce only in regulated wholesale markets. He argues that farmers will benefit if large traders, retailers, and food processors can buy directly from producers, bypassing antiquated wholesale markets.

But tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on national roads demanding that the government repeal laws they fear will eventually dismantle regulated markets and prevent the government from buying rice and wheat at guaranteed prices.

Farmers 'leaders would also oppose plans at Tuesday's meeting to impose severe penalties for burning stubble, a key source of air pollution, according to the farmers' letter, seen by Reuters news agency.

Modi has dismissed the farmers' protests as motivated by his political opponents, while the main leader of the opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, has accused the prime minister of introducing the laws to help some businessmen.

Local media reported on Saturday that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost one of its allies, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, as its boss joined farmers in the protest in course.

Darshan Pal, another farmer leader, said protesting farmers will stage a "tractor march" from the Singhu border outside the capital New Delhi on Wednesday.

"The new year is coming. We are inviting the people of Delhi and the surrounding areas to come and celebrate their New Years on January 1, 2021 and eat with us," he said.

The Singhu border is the northern entrance to New Delhi from Haryana state and is currently filled with tens of thousands of farmers.

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