Farmer groups have rejected the Home Minister’s conditional invitation for talks, and refused to shift to the designated protest grounds in Burari, calling it an “open jail”.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are massed at the borders of Delhi, demanding the repeal of the Centre’s three agricultural reform laws and withdrawal of an electricity Bill. Equipped with rations that could last for months, they have threatened to block five of the entry points into the capital if their demands were not heard. “The Centre’s condition to hold talks is an insult to farmers. We will never go to the Burari ground. It is not a ground, it is an open jail,” said Surjeet Singh Phul, State president, Bharatiya Kisan Union Krantikari, speaking at a press conference held at the Singhu border point on Sunday evening. “When a group of farmers from Uttarakhand arrived in Delhi today, they said they wanted to go to Jantar Mantar, and the Delhi police said they would be taken there. Instead, they were taken to Burari and held there,” he added. Jantar Mantar, near Parliament, is a more visible and high-profile protest site.
Noting that farmers had hauled along bedding and food rations for at least four months on their tractors, Mr. Phul said the protesters are prepared to stay for the long term and block five of Delhi’s entry-exit points. In a letter on November 28, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla reiterated Home Minister Amit Shah’s appeal to farmers to move to the grounds in northeastern Delhi, after which they would be called for a meeting.