New Delhi: Punjab and Haryana farmers, protesting against the central government’s three farm laws, are still camping in Singhu at Delhi-Haryana border, despite being allowed by the Delhi Police to enter the national capital and move to Burari.
A meeting is currently underway in Singhu between leaders of 30 farmer organisations that are jointly coordinating the protests against the laws passed in September.
The farmers are deciding whether to take up the central government’s offer to move to the Nirankari Ground in north Delhi’s Burari, where they have been allowed to protest peacefully, or stay put at the border.
The decision to allow the protesters to move to Burari was taken after they clashed with police Friday in Singhu. Water cannons were deployed and multiple rounds of tear gas shells fired by the police at the protesting farmers, who had reached the Singhu border early Friday morning.
However, the situation was calm Saturday at Singhu, Tikri, Bahadurgarh and Khinnauri areas.
Meanwhile, the central government Saturday said they were ready for talks with the farmers to resolve the matter.
“Government is ready for talks with farmer unions to resolve their issues. We have invited them for talks on 3 December. I hope that they will come to the meeting. I urge political parties not to play politics in the name of farmers,” said Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to ANI.
Government is ready for talks with farmer unions to resolve their issues. We have invited them for talks on December 3. I hope that they will come to the meeting. I urge political parties not to play politics in the name of farmers: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar pic.twitter.com/N5in45HXUf
— ANI (@ANI) November 28, 2020
‘Most farmers on ground feel it’s best to protest at border’
While no consensus reached among the farmers till Saturday evening, farmer leaders that ThePrint spoke to said the majority of the agitating farmers are in favour of camping at the border.
“Most farmers on the ground feel that it is best to stay at the Delhi border itself to exert pressure on the central government,” said Harpal Singh, state organisation committee, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Haryana.
“We don’t want to move to Delhi, or even Ramlila Maidan if they allow us. We want to continue our protest here at the border,” said Hajura Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal).
Other farmer leaders said that negotiations are going on to decide if Burari is the best option to continue their agitations as it can accommodate a large number of protesters.
“Negotiations are underway between the senior farmer leaders to take up the government’s offer to move to Burari. While some frontline protesters want to stay at the border or want a protest site as near to the Parliament as possible, we are negotiating now on whether Burari is the best option to continue our protest as the area is large enough to accommodate so many of us,” said Satyavan, working group member, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
Senior leaders also said any decision that will be taken, will be decided jointly.
“We are trying to talk things out with the leaders on moving to Burari. But a final decision on moving or staying here will be taken jointly by the 30 organisations,” said Gurnam Singh, chief Bharatiya Kisan Union, Haryana, who is leading the Haryana farmers.
“It is a complex negotiation as several organisations are involved. A decision will be taken in consultation with all groups,” said T. Krishna Prasad, member of the AIKSCC.
Farmers said they will continue their protest peacefully till their leadership decides on the next move.
“We are holding demonstrations by addressing our protesters with songs and poems. We are on our side and the police are behind the barricades on the other side. We will continue protesting peacefully till a decision is reached,” said Hajura Singh.
Protesters can only go to Burari
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police said the protesters only have permission to go to Burari.
“Protesters only have the permission to go to Burari, which is the designated spot and not Ramlila Maidan,” said Delhi Police PRO, DCP Eish Singhal.
The BJP-run NDMC has, meanwhile, started preparing the Nirankari Ground in Burari for the farmers’ arrival.
In a press release issued late Friday, the NDMC said teams have been put in place to clean, sweep, and sanitise the ground in the wake of the pandemic.
“The teams deployed have started working on war-footing. The functions have started falling in place so that the farmers do not have to face any inconvenience,” stated the press release.
The Delhi government also announced that the Delhi Jal Board is making arrangements for water supply to the farmers at the Nirankari Ground.
Kejriwal Govt's @DelhiJalBoard is making appropriate arrangements for water supply at approved protest site – Sant Nirankari Samagam Ground, Burari.
Nodal officers for site arrangements have been appointed and directions for
deployment of adequate number of water tankers given. pic.twitter.com/S9lPSsoTr1
— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) November 27, 2020
Earlier, Kejriwal had condemned the use of force on protesters, saying that the central government had assaulted the farmers’ democratic right to protest.