Ready to talk with govt but will not accept any conditions, say agitating farmers
New Delhi: Farmers agitating against the Centre’s new agri laws on Sunday said they are ready for talks with the government but will not accept any conditions, including moving to the city’s Burari ground from the Singhu and Tikri border points, where they have stayed put for the last three days.
“We do not accept the condition of their (govt) proposal. We are ready to talk but will not accept any condition now,” said Gurnam Singh Chadhoni, Haryana unit president for the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
Darshan Pal, Punjab President of Krantikari Kisan Union, said, “The government has invited us to talk with conditions. The environment should be created for a conversation. We will not talk if there are any conditions”.
After spending another night in the cold, thousands of farmers continued to protest against the Centre’s new agri laws on the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, staying put at the Singhu and Tikri border points, even as their leaders deliberated upon their future course of action about the proposed talks with the government.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground and had said the Centre was ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.
A delegation of the farmers has been invited for a discussion on December 3, he said, adding now that some of their unions have demanded that talks should be held immediately, the central government is ready to do so as soon as the protesters shift to the ground in Burari.
“If the government is serious about addressing the demands of the farmers, it should stop laying down conditions, should stop assuming that the dialogue can be about an explanation to farmers about the benefits of the Acts,” said a representative of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of farmers’ groups.
Joginder Singh, President, Bhartiya Kisan Ektagrah, “We are sitting at the borders. Our demand is that the government take back the farm laws and we will not accept anything less than that”.
Raising slogans against the government, the farmers staged protest at the border amid heavy police presence. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) offered food to the agitating farmers.
“There is a crucial meeting today to decide the future course of action. We will stay put till then and decide accordingly. In any situation, we will not call off the protest till our demands are met,” Brij Singh, one of the farmers at Singhu border said.
Meanwhile, farmers who had reached Nirankarai Samagam Ground in Burari on Saturday continued to stage protest there.
“Our leaders are holding a meeting. We will follow whatever they decide. IF the government wants to talk, they should hold the talks immediately without any conditions,” an agitating farmer said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also termed Shah’s offer to hold discussions at the earliest as the best in the interest of the farming community and the nation at large.
On Saturday, he had urged the farmers to accept the appeal and shift to the designated place for their protest.
The farmers have come prepared for a long haul, their vehicles loaded with rations, utensils, quilts and blankets for the cold and equipped with even charging points for their phones.
“In last few days, a lot of protesters have come here from far places and the supply with them is getting reduced. In order to facilitate them so that they do not starve, they should get their proper requirements and their daily needs should be met. We are facilitating those vehicles. In fact our own staff have joined them and helping them in distribution.
“Burari DDA ground has already been designated as the protest site and when they want to move, we will be facilitating their movement,” said Gaurav Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer North).
On Friday, police used teargas shells, water cannons and multi-layer barriers to block the protesters while some farmers pelted stones and broke barricades in their determination to push through as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, but Saturday remained quiet.
But the tension persisted with restless crowds milling around the city’s edges and beyond and settling down from another night out in the cold.