Home minister Amit Shah reached out to protesting farmers on Saturday, appealing to them to move their demonstration to the designated spot in Delhi’s Burari and saying the government was ready to hold talks with their leaders before the scheduled date of December 3. Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh said he was ready to join the Centre’s efforts to resolve the issue and urged farmers to take up the home minister’s offer for talks.
The statements come after thousands of farmers pressed on with their protest at highways on the outskirts of the Capital. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh were stopped by police at the Ghazipur border as they attempted to join their counterparts from Punjab and Haryana.
Only a few hundred farmers moved the protest to the Sant Nirankari Ground in outer Delhi’s Burari on Saturday, and thousands others continued to block two arterial roads at the Singhu and Tikri borders, connecting the Capital with Haryana.
As the impasse continued, Shah urged them to move to the Burari ground, saying the government wanted to discuss the issues during a meeting called by the agriculture minister on December 3 and was ready to “hear their grievances”. “If farmers’ unions want to hold a discussion before December 3, then I want to assure you all that as soon as you shift your protest to the designated place, our government will hold talks to address your concerns the very next day,” Shah said.
The farmers – largely from Punjab and Haryana who travelled in their tractor-trolleys – were allowed to enter Delhi on Friday after braving a day of clashes with police, who used teargas, water cannons and baton charges to push them back. “We intend to block Delhi from all sides so that the government is suffocated into listening to our demands. Protesting in Burari would have practically been like being jailed in an open ground for us,” said Purushottam Singh, chief of the Bhartiya Kisan Union’s Lakhua unit.
Police personnel kept both the border points barricaded on Saturday. “There is no confrontation since Friday, but the barricades will remain closed…” said A Koan, DCP (outer district).