Farmers Protest Latest News: As the agitation entered 19th day, leaders of around 32 farmer unions on Monday observed a day-long hunger strike at Delhi’s Singhu border to protest against the Centre’s new farm laws. These unions claimed that demonstrations were also held at various district headquarters across the country. As per updates, the hunger strike began at 8 AM and ended at 5 PM even as talks with the government remained inconclusive. Also Read - Centre-Farmers Meet Ends in Deadlock, Govt Says No More Talks if Protesters Don’t Accept Offer to Stay Laws

During the hunger strike, hundreds of farmers blocked highways from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan leading to Delhi and thousands more dug in their heels at the various protest sites. Undeterred by the cold, protesters at Tikri, Ghazipur and Singhu said they were determined not to yield until their demand was met. Also Read - Punjab Government to Provide Job to Kin of Farmers Who Died During Protests on Delhi Borders

Farmer unions said demonstrations were held at district headquarters across the country to push for a repeal of the laws. A farmer leader claimed district level protests were held in various states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. Also Read - Farmers Feel 'Insulted' After Talks With Govt, To Go Ahead With Tractor Rally on Republic Day As Planned

Rajnath Singh on farmers protest

In the midst of these developments, Union Defence Minister Minister Rajnath Singh said there is no question of the government ever taking any retrograde step against the agriculture sector.

Keeping the door open for negotiations, Rajnath Singh described agriculture as a mother sector and also said the government is always willing to listen to farmers.

Addressing the annual general meeting of industry chamber FICCI, Singh said the recent reforms were undertaken with the best interests of farmers in mind.

“There is no question of taking retrograde steps against our agricultural sector ever We are, however, always willing to listen to our farmer brothers, allay their misgivings and provide them with assurances,” he said.

Tomar to farmers

On the other hand, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government is engaging with them to decide on the next date of talks deadlocked after five rounds.

“The government is engaging with farmer leaders to decide on the next date of talks,” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, adding that the government is ready for discussion anytime. The farmer leaders have to “decide and convey” when they are ready for the next meeting, he added.

Tomar is leading the negotiations with 40 farmer unions, along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Som Parkash.

Later, the agriculture minister also met a delegation of farmers led by the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) which extended support to the farm laws. This is the fourth group of farmers who have extended support to the laws in last two weeks.

Kejriwal joins hunger strike

On Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal joined in the fast too, describing the legislations as “anti-farmer and anti-common man. He joined AAP leaders, MLAs and volunteers at the party office for the hunger strike.

“I appeal to parties to stop playing dirty politics over farmers’ issue. These laws are anti-farmers and anti-aam aadmi and are aimed to benefit a few capitalists. These laws will lead to immense inflation through hoarding,” Kejriwal said.

Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel also observed a day-long fast in support of the farmers protesting against three new farm laws.

In a tweet, Goel said, “Sitting on one day fast in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Vidhan Sabha in support of farmers one day fast today”.

Borders of Delhi closed

Several borders of the national capital remained closed on Monday due to the ongoing protest by farmers against the Centre’s new farm laws.

The Delhi Traffic Police took to Twitter to inform people about road closures and advised them to take alternative routes to avoid inconvenience.

In a series of tweets, the Delhi Traffic Police said, “Singhu, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari, Sabholi & Mangesh borders are closed. Please take alternate routes via Lampur, Safiabad & Singhu school toll tax borders. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba & GTK road. Pl avoid Outer Ring Rd, GTK road, NH-44.”

Anna Hazare to Centre

Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar warning “resumption of a hunger strike” against the Centre’s “failure” to fulfil his demands including the implementation of the recommendations made by M S Swaminathan Commission.

Hazare’s other demand include granting autonomy to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

The anti-graft activist had sat on fast in his Ralegaon Siddhi village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra in February, 2019.