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Farmers stand by demands, Burari offer sees few takers

November 29, 2020 05:54 AM

COURTSY HT NOV 29

Farmers stand by demands, Burari offer sees few takers
Unlike Friday, when cops, farmers clashed at Delhi’s Singhu and Tikri borders, Saturday did not see any violence

Farmers protesting against agriculture laws at the Delhi-Haryana border on Saturday. AP
HT Correspondents

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi /Rohtak : Onlya few hundred agitating farmers had, as of Saturday evening, accepted the Delhi Police’s offer to continue their stir at a ground in Burari, a day after relentless skirmishes at the capital’s interstate borders forced the police to allow protesters into the city.

Meanwhile, thousands of farmers continued to block two arterial roads at Singhu and Tikri borders, connecting Delhi with Haryana, for the second consecutive day as part of their ongoing agitation against three farm laws passed by Parliament in September.

Union home minister Amit Shah appealed to farmers on Saturday and said his government was ready to hold talks. “I appeal to the protesting farmers that the Union government is ready to hold talks. The agriculture minister has invited them on December 3 for a discussion. The government is ready to deliberate on every problem and demand of farmers,” he told ANI.

Unlike Friday, when police and farmers clashed multiple times at the two border points, Saturday was free of incident.

“We intend to block Delhi from all sides so that the government is pressured into listening to our demands. Protesting at Burari would have been like being jailed in an open ground. We have come prepared for however long it takes,” said Purushottam Singh, chief of the Bhartiya Kisan Union’s Lakhua (Punjab) unit.

On Friday afternoon, the Delhi Police had agreed to let in the protesters, provided they move to the Burari ground, but not before a series of clashes between farmers and the police who used tear gas shells, lathis and water cannons.

Only a few hundred farmers who entered via Tikri border have moved to Burari; no farmer camped at Singhu border has agreed to the “protest only in Burari” offer of the Delhi Police.

Farmers at SInghu said they would agree to a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan or Jantar Mantar, but not any other site. “Some of the farmers from the Tikri border had left for the Burari ground but we have called them back,” said Jaspal Singh, a farmer leader from Firozpur, who is camping at Tikri border.

Amid the impasse, farmers from Punjab and Haryana continued to arrive at the Delhi-Haryana border throughout Saturday. “We have trucks and trolleys lined up for several kilometres,” said Jaspal Singh.

On Saturday, the police and the farmers maintained a distance of at least 50m from each other at both the borders.

“If farmers want to go to Burari, we will remove the barricades. There was no confrontation since Friday afternoon, but barricades will remain closed,” said A Koan, deputy commissioner of police (outer district).

Gaurav Sharma, DCP of outer-north district, under whose jurisdiction the Singhu Border falls, said,“Our aim is to keep things peaceful.”

The Delhi government on Saturday set up a Covid-19 testing centre at the ground. The mobile centre will have teams to conduct rapid antigen tests free of cost, said a senior official in the revenue department.

Health minister Satyendar Jain said, “The farmers have legitimate concerns. They should at least be heard. The Delhi government has refused the police’s proposal to turn stadiums into jails. We are merely facilitating the famers’ visit.”

Several politicians spoke in support f farmers on Saturday. AAP legislator Sanjeev Jha, who met farmers in Burari along with his party leader Raghav Chadha, said they were there to ensure that there is no inconvenience to farmers.

 

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