As more farmers' groups converged at the national capital to protest against the Modi government’s agriculture sector reforms, Home Minister Amit Shah stepped in with an offer to expedite talks, asking the protestors to clear highways and shift to the Burari grounds.
Shah’s appeal for talks came as farmers’ groups continued to march towards the national capital on tractor trolleys, blocking entry points at Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri borders with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana respectively.
“I appeal to the protesting farmers that the government of India is ready to hold talks. The Agriculture Minister has invited them on December 3 for discussion. If farmers' unions want to hold a discussion before December 3, then, I assure you that it will happen as soon as you shift your protest to a designated place,” Shah said.
Shah said that at many places, farmers were staying in their tractor-trolleys on highways in this cold. “I appeal to them that Delhi Police are ready to shift you to big ground, please go there,”(sic) he said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged farmers to accede to the Home Minister’s appeal for talks as the purpose of their protest was to pressurise the Centre to listen to their voice.
Farmers’ leaders were expected to meet on Sunday to take a call on the future course of action.
On Friday evening a large group of farmers had shifted to their protests to the Nirankari Samagam grounds at Burari in north Delhi, about 20 kilometres away from the Ram Lila Grounds where the agitation was planned originally.
However, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh activists had stayed put at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu Border, insisting that they would await other farmer groups who had set off for Delhi from Punjab and decide on moving to the Burari protest site after consultations with them.
Various parts of the national capital witnessed sporadic protests as small groups of farmers blocked traffic near Pragati Maidan and Jantar Mantar, before being escorted away by the police.
At the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border near Ghazipur, hundreds of activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union led by Rakesh Tikait broke police barricades to enter the national capital to join the agitation.