15:35 GMT20 January 2021
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    Since 26 November 2020, thousands of farmers have blocked roads on the outskirts of Delhi to protest against new legislation they say will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

    Former MP Bhupinder Singh Mann, the current president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) – a non-partisan farmer's representative organisation in India – has quit a four-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court to negotiate with farmers protesting against three controversial agricultural laws passed by the parliament last September. 

     

    "As a farmer myself and a union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country, I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab," Mann said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, India's Apex Court ruled that the laws be implemented and formed the committee in a bid to end the 50 days of deadlock as thousands of farmers rally to repeal the legislation. 

    BKU President Mann, Shetkeri Sangathana President Anil Ghanwat, South Asia Director for the Institute of International Food Policy Research Pramod Kumar Joshi, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati were selected for the committee. 

    Farmers claim that each of the members has previously supported the new laws, making the panel biased. 

     

    Farmers' union leaders are happy about Mann's departure and told Sputnik that all the other members should also step down.

    "We were never in the favour of the formation of the committee. Since Tuesday we have maintained that the members of the committee are supporters of an open market system or law. Every member of the committee should close their eyes once and try to see our claim and step down," Paramjeet Singh of Samyukta Kisan Morcha told Sputnik. 

    Rakesh Tikait, a prominent member of the farmers' union, revealed that it was Gulati who recommended the new laws be implemented by the government. 

    Since 26 November 2020, farmers have protested on the outskirts of India's capital Delhi.

    The laws in question are the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

    Related:

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    Indian Farmers to Keep Protesting as Supreme Court Committee 'Diverts Attention From Real Concerns'
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    down, steps, protest, committee, member, members, government, Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, India, farmers, farms
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