New Delhi: The biggest update in farmers' agitation on Wednesday (December 16) is that the 21-daylong movement finally reached Supreme Court, which observed that the Central government's negotiations with the protesting farmers have "not worked apparently", and directed that a committee having representatives of both the sides will be formed to resolve the deadlock.
After hearing several petitions, the apex court observed that the gathering of such a large number of people cannot be allowed at one place amid coronavirus pandemic situation. It also said that blocking of roads, scuttling the movement of millions of people can not be allowed, directing the government to evacuate agitators from these roads.
Subsequently, the top court said it will form a committee to resolve the dispute, adding "We will have members of the government, members from farmer organisations in it. This may soon become a national issue. We will have members from farmer organisations from rest of India also. You propose a list of names of committee members."
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian also impleaded farmers unions as parties in the matter and sought their response by Thursday. It may bee noted here that the court has directed that the committee should comprise members from farmer organisations from rest of India also.
When the apex court asked the Solicitor General, who was representing the Centre, to give names of the farmer organisations, which are blocking the roads on Delhi borders, he said that he can provide the names of those with whom the government is holding discussions. "There are members of Bharatiya Kisan Union and other organisations who are talking to the government", Mehta said, adding that government is talking with the protesting farmer organisations and he can give those names to the court.
The inclusion of members from farmer organisations from rest of India in the committee is the need of the hour. If the representatives from other parts of the country came out in the favour of the new farm laws then the movement is likely to weaken, because the farmers from Punjab are mainly demanding the repeal of the new laws. There are about 11 lakh farmers in Punjab while there are 15 crore farmers across the country.
The top court asked the Solicitor General to inform it about the names of farmer leaders who would remain present in the court as the verdict can not be pronounced without hearing them. As many as 8 farmer leaders will attend the court on Thursday.
Among the farmer's unions which were issued notices are: Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Rakesh Tikait), BKU-Sidhupur (Jagjeet S Dallewal), BKU-Rajewal (Balbeer Singh Rajewal), BKU-Lakhowal (Harinder Singh Lakhowal), Jamhoori Kisan Sabha (Kulwant Singh Sandhu), BKU Dakaunda (Buta Singh Burjgill), BKU-Doaba (Manjit Singh Rai) and Kul Hind Kisan Federation (Prem Singh Bhangu).
Apart from the Centre, the top court also issued notices to the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, seeking their response on this issue.
Several rounds of formal talks have taken place between the Centre and the representatives of thousands of protesting farmers since November last week, but the deadlock has continued with the unions sticking to their main demand for a repeal of the three contentious laws. The unions have repeatedly rejected the government's offer to make certain changes in the legislation and give written assurances or clarifications on a few issues.
Although some farmer organizations have spoken that they would not be part of the committee, the attitude of the rest of farmer organizations is yet to be seen. Some of the union leaders have already dismissed the move as no solution.
Amid this development, a Sikh preacher supporting the agitation allegedly committed suicide near the Singhu border. A handwritten note in Punjabi, purportedly left behind by the deceased, said that he was unable to bear the "pain of farmers". The note is being verified by the police. The deceased, Sant Ram Singh (65), who hailed from Singhra village in Nissing area of Karnal district, allegedly shot himself. He was rushed to a hospital in Panipat but doctors declared him brought dead.
Meanwhile, the farmers' organizations have also decided to create a media cell of their own. This media cell will run a campaign on social media to propagate their views. The DNA has been saying this for many days that farmers should take their campaign on social media rather than taking to the streets.