New Delhi: A move by the government to amend the Land Acquisition Bill to give flexibility to the states to frame their own laws in a bid to break the prolonged impasse was slammed as a "new kind of conspiracy" at a public hearing organised on Thursday by a union of various farmers' bodies.
Hundreds of farmers and activists from several parts of the country who had assembled here demanded that the NDA government withdraw the controversial Land Bill.
At the hearing organised by Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, the land bill opposers, which included social activist Medha Patkar, JPC members and MPs Jairam Ramesh of Congress and Mohammad Salim of CPI(M), accused the Narendra Modi government of playing a new kind of conspiracy by getting the bill passed from the states.
"We want withdrawal of the bill. We also want to secure land rights for farmers. Modi asking states to frame their respective laws is nothing but, in a way, admission of his defeat as farmers have taken firm stand on the issue.
"It will also make clear that he is playing a new kind of conspiracy in getting the land bill promoted, projected and passed from states to the Centre (as it is in the concurrent list). (But) people's movements are determined to fight the law at state level also," Patkar said.
The outfits also passed a resolution to ensure that clauses like seeking farmers' consent and carrying out social impact assessments before land acquisition, are kept intact.
Ramesh advised farmers to put pressure on six members of a parliamentary panel that is looking into the Land Bill and whose votes are crucial in deciding conclusion of its report. The JPC has 30 members.
"The committee has 13 members who are opposed to, while 11 are in favour of proposed amendments. So, the votes of rest six members, who are mostly regional party leaders, matter more. So, you need to pressurise them to protect your rights," Ramesh said, adding that the terms and references of the committee is restricted to 15 amendments proposed in the bill.
Salim asked farmers to force their respective MPs to take the right stance so as to ensure government changes its stand on the bill.
MDMK leader Vaiko, who was at the public hearing, said his party was "totally opposed" to the bill which is "anti-farmers".
"They will acquire lands and hand it over on a platter to the corporates. Yesterday, I met the Prime Minister and pleaded with him that farmers throughout the country are dejected and disappointed with the move. Don't carry this bad legacy of the previous government. Therefore, you will have to withdraw the bill. He said I will consider," Vaiko claimed.
General secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, farmers' wing of CPI(M), Hannan Mollah said the hearing was organised to let JPC members know views of farmers from across the country as the panel could not reach out to peasants directly.
Farmers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana and other parts of the country put forth their views during the meeting.