Farmers amassed on the borders of the national capital Sunday refused to move to the Burari Park in New Delhi, where the Centre has invited them for talks, and said they will stay put until they are allowed to go to Jantar Mantar to stage their protest. Follow farmers’ protests LIVE updates
“We will never go to Burari Park. We have come to know that it is not a park but an open jail,” Surjeet Singh, state president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Krantikari, said at a press conference at Delhi’s Singhu border.
Singh said the farmers would block five of Delhi’s entry points.
“We learnt today that farmers from Uttarakhand reached Delhi and said they wanted to reach Jantar Mantar. Delhi Police told them they would be taken there, but instead, they were held at the Burari Park. We will block Delhi from five entry points. We will also not allow any political person to stage protests with us,” Singh added.
The farmers at the press conference also outlined their demands –– the three “anti-farmer and pro-corporates” central farm laws be repealed; MSP and the rate of buying crops should be guaranteed; the electricity ordinance be stopped; and the fine for stubble burning be done away with. The Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 does away with the subsidy farmers get on their power bills.
Home Minister Amit Shah had on Friday softened the central government’s stance, offering to hold talks with the protesting farmers if they moved to the Burari ground.
“Some farmers’ unions and farmers demand that talks be held soon instead of December 3. So, I assure everyone that as soon as you shift to Burari ground, the Government is ready to hold talks with you the very next day,” Shah had said in a statement.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, whose state has seen the most determined protests, had welcomed Shah’s move, even offering to meditate between the farmers and the Centre.
However, the farmers rejected the offer. Shah had personally called three farmer leaders –– Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president of BKU ( Sidhupur) and Balbir Singh Rajewal, President of BKU (Rajewal).
Ugrahan Sunday told The Indian Express, “The Union Home Minister called me around 12.20 pm on Friday. He appealed to us not to seal the borders of Delhi and instead go to Nirankari Bhawan, Burari. We do understand that blocking the borders is causing inconvenience to masses, but we are not ready to move to Burari. Jantar Mantar is a place where everyone lodges their protest. Why can’t we farmers do the same?”