New Delhi says it has proposed changes to controversial farm laws and awaits farmers' response but that a complete withdrawal of all the laws is "impossible".
Indian government has cancelled its sixth round of talks with leaders of protesting farmers after a meeting with the interior minister was unable to break their deadlock over new farm laws.
With the cancellation of Wednesday's crucial meeting, both sides have toughened their stance, with the farmers saying they will intensify their protests and PM Narendra Modi's government stating that a complete withdrawal of all the laws is "impossible."
The farmers' unions met Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday night without any breakthrough as farmers rejected Shah's offer to amend new farm laws and stuck to their demand for the repeal of the controversial laws, The Indian Express reported.
Farmers get offer of amendments
Meanwhile, the government will consider amending reforms that have sparked protests by farmers fearing the end of guaranteed crop prices but it will not abandon the plan, according to government sources and local news.
An offer of amendments has been sent to farm leaders on Wednesday, which if accepted could end weeks of demonstrations against new disputed agricultural laws, NDTV reported.
"We're open to amendments but a complete withdrawal of the laws is just plain impossible," said a senior government official in the New Delhi agriculture ministry, who declined to be identified, to Reuters.
Hours before the government offer was delivered, a farmer leader, Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, cited by The Indian Express, rejected the proposal, saying, "We will not relent unless all the three laws are repealed."
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Farmer leaders at Singhu Border receive a draft proposal from the Government of India#FarmLaws pic.twitter.com/zBQuOjY3F3— ANI (@ANI) December 9, 2020
Haryana farmer, 32, protesting at SInghu border for last 10 days, dies. He is survived by elderly parents, wife and three children. https://t.co/SNlFPieTjb— NDTV (@ndtv) December 9, 2020
NDTV's Arun Singh reports pic.twitter.com/zGBXs5XXDX
Weeks of demonstrations
Farmers have been demonstrating for two weeks against the deregulation that will allow them to sell products to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured a minimum price.
Small growers fear the change, part of PM Modi's liberalising reforms, will mean the end of the price support for staples such as wheat and rice and leave them at the mercy of big business.
Modi's government is facing criticism from opposition parties that have criticised the reform as a boon for big business but a disaster for India's traditional agricultural markets.
Farmers from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, neighbouring New Delhi, have been at the vanguard of the agitation since last month, and have set up protest camps in and around the capital.
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Farmers’ protests against new laws liberalising agricultural markets spread across India, as farm organisations call for a nationwide strike after inconclusive talks with government pic.twitter.com/922YoPei9T— TRT World (@trtworld) December 9, 2020