Thousands of farmers dug in their heels at Delhi’s border points, their numbers swelling through the day as many more joined them, and hundreds gathered at the city’s Burari grounds on Saturday (November 28), disparate but united in their determination to hold protests against the new farm laws.
With many roads and entry points blocked, Union Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground and said the Centre is ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.
He said a delegation of the farmers has been invited for discussion on December 3, adding now that some of their unions have demanded that talks be held immediately, the central government is ready to do so as soon as the protestors shift to the ground in Burari.
Though there was no clear roadmap, the farmers, belonging to multiple groups, including 30 from Punjab, appeared clear in their resolve, some saying that they would not disperse till the laws were repealed and others that would ensure their voices are heard. They were mostly from Punjab and Haryana but also from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
At the Singhu and Tikri borders, thousands of farmers in trucks, tractors and other vehicles who had braved the water cannons and batons and had been there for three days, refused to budge. As police personnel swarmed the area, many said they would not go to the Sant Nirankari ground in Burari that was offered to them for peaceful protests.
Settling down for another night on the road, some said they would wait for the outcome of a crucial meeting on Sunday to decide the next course of action.
” Tomorrow, there will be another meeting at 11 am. Till then, we are at Singhu,” said Baljeet Singh Mahal, the Jalandhar unit president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Kadia.
“We have still not decided on going to the Burari ground. We will have a meeting in the evening to decide the next course of action,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal told PTI over the phone.
Another faction, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of the largest farmer organisations in Punjab, agreed that they would not go to Burari. The faction’s leaders claimed that over one lakh farmers, including elderly women, were marching towards the national capital in tractor-trailers, buses and other vehicles.
Numbers swelled at the Singhu border point, one of the main access points into the capital from Punjab, and at Tikri a few kilometres away.
Some farmers from Uttar Pradesh gathered at the Ghazipur border too, ready to join in. Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, over 500 farmers staged a sit-in at the Jhansi-Mirzapur National Highway in Kulpahad to demand the rollback of the three laws.
Though many groups were unwilling to go to Burari, hundreds of farmers did make their way to the ground where the government had allowed them.
Haryana Police has booked state BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers on attempt to murder, rioting, causing obstruction in government duty and other charges for violations during their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, officials said.