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'Allow us to peacefully march towards Delhi': Farmer leaders seek PM Modi's intervention

New Delhi: The General Secretary of Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Committee, Sarwan Singh Pandher, on Wednesday, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government to discuss their issues or allow farmers to proceed to Delhi to hold a protest peacefully.

"We are saying that it is also the Prime Minister's responsibility, we too have voted to make him the PM of the country. This country belongs to everyone, the PM belongs to everyone. He should come forward and handle the situation and fulfil our demands," Sarwan Singh Pandher said while addressing a joint press conference with other farmer leaders at the Shambhu border on Wednesday morning.

"We tried our best, attended meetings, and every point was discussed. Now the decision has to be taken by the Centre. The Prime Minister should come forward and accept our demands. Rs 1.5-2 lakh crore is not a very big amount...about 60 per cent of the farmers are dependent on it. If farm labourers are added, it constitutes 80 per cent of the country's population, then our best effort is to remain peaceful," he said.

He urged the Prime Minister to end this 'deadlock' and let the farmers protest democratically. "Or if the Center feels like this, it seems that right now they are having doubts about accepting the demand, so we say, Prime Minister, it is your responsibility to protect the Constitution, you protect the Constitution, please open this gate and allow us to go to Delhi to protest peacefully. It will also end this deadlock of the farmers and labourers," the farmer leader said.

He further urged the Prime Minister to decide on the MSP guarantee law and calm the situation. "We request the Central Government with folded hands that you join us, sit down and solve our issues. All our demands have been discussed one by one. Now is the time to make a decision. If the Head of State of the Central Government comes forward and says that we are ready to make the MSP Guarantee Law this can be taken further and the situation can be calmed down," he said.

The farmer leader criticised the centre's way of handling the protest using paramilitary forces. "As we see, we will remain peaceful from our side, but what we are seeing is that through paramilitary forces, the centre will celebrate Holi with the blood of farmers and labourers," Pandher said.

"There are soldiers on the other side and farmers on this side, they are also family. So we do not want any such thing to happen that will show sad pictures to the country. So we won't force any attack from our side, we will remain peaceful, now the ball is in the centre's court, on what decision to take on the future?" he added.

Addressing the press conference, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said that the central government complaining about not getting enough time is not right as the protest call was made in November last year while alleging it to be neglecting the farmers.

"Look, as Saheb (Pandher) said our intention is not to create any kind of unrest, nor do we want to create any issue but the thing is that we have made a program to go to Delhi. It has not been made today, we gave a call for protest on November 7, and from then till today, if the government says that they don't have enough time, then I feel that this is the policy of the government, to neglect us," Dallewal said.

"A decision should be taken in favour of the farmers and labourers. The farmers of the country have made the country self-dependent, and have worked hard day and night, around 7 lakh farmers have died by suicide to date, but even in such circumstances instead of talking to the farmers, the government makes such arrangements as to erect such huge barricades to stop the farmers, then it would not be appropriate," he said.

Dallewal further urged the government to remove the barricades and allow the farmers to proceed to Delhi.

"We want to march to Delhi peacefully. The government should remove the barricades and allow us to go and make arrangements for us to sit there, we have no problem," he said.

"If the government wants to do so, then it should accept our demands. He is the Prime Minister of our country, our government which sits there in Delhi and makes big decisions for our entire country, for the people. Today he should tell farmers that the govt is ready to make a law to guarantee the purchase of their crops," Dallewal said.

He further said that the farmers are 'calm' and will remain calm. "We are calm, there is no need for anyone to ask the farmers to remain calm, the farmers are already completely calm," Dallewal said.

The march which was put on hold was resumed on Wednesday morning. The farmers have raised various demands including an ordinance on ensuring legal guarantees for MSPs and loan waivers.

The two sides -- ministers and farmer leaders -- had met earlier on February 8, 12, 15, 18 and 19, but talks remained inconclusive. 

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