Only 500 farmers are present at the Nirankari ground in northwest Delhi
Claiming that camping at the Nirankari ground in Burari was akin to being lodged in an open jail, farmers protesting at the Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders refused to move there on Sunday.
On Friday, the Delhi Police had allowed the entry of protesting farmers into the city and designated the Nirankari ground in Burari to hold a protest. However, on Sunday evening, only around 500 farmers were present in the northwest Delhi venue that often hosts large religious congregations and other events.
“We listened to ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (radio address) of PM where he supported the new agriculture Bills and asked farmers to support it but we don’t believe him any more because he was the one who supported demonetisation and rest all we know how much damage it caused to the economy. We won’t be allowing him to damage the agriculture sector,” said Harjeet Sandhu, a farmer from Amritsar.
The agitators said nothing less than a rollback of the controversial Bills will placate them, and provided details on how they had come prepared for the “long haul”.
“We have not come to Delhi to sit at Nirankari ground, we are here to make the government accept farmers’ demand and take back the new agriculture Bill. We will block the National Highway and will achieve our objective, we have come here with two months’ ration. We are cooking food and serving three meals for our brothers protesting at Delhi’s borders,” said Kishan Pal, a farmer from Patiala.
Adding that they also had adequate beddings and tents, the farmers at Burari insisted that the government should come forward with no condition and wondered why the Union Home Minister was putting conditions before holding meeting.
“We will be staying in Burari till further orders from our leaders. We have no issue in sleeping in open as we are farmers and we never had a bed of roses. We have hundreds of langars at protest sites and we are also offering food to security persons or whosoever needs it,” said Inder Singh, a farmer from Sonepat.
A senior police officer said that a team of the Delhi Police, which included a senior police officer, held a rounds of talks with the protesters to make them shift to the Nirankari ground, but the meeting remained unsuccessful.
“We have managed to move many protesters from the borders to the Nirankari ground but many are still at the borders. We had a talk with their leaders but the conditions they are putting up are beyond the jurisdiction of the Delhi Police. We are trying to convince them and are hopeful that things will get sorted peacefully,” said a senior police officer.
Meanwhile, on Sunday evening, a large group of farmers broke the police barricade and entered Delhi. After moving about 200 meters inside Delhi, they stopped and sat down. Police said that as per their report, around 20,000 protesters were at the Singhu border, and around 30,000 protesters at the Tikri border.
“We never asked for any new agriculture Bill. Why is the government forcing this black bill? We are protesting for the last three months but no one from Central government come forward to talk to farmers. After we blocked Delhi’s borders, the government has agreed to talk. If they can pass the Bill overnight, then why can’t they amend it overnight?” said Gurbachan Singh, a farmer from Hoshiyarpur.
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