New Delhi: Hundreds of thousands of farmers gathered in north Delhi’s Burari ground on Saturday raising slogans, flags of reds, greens and blues and singing along in a raging protest for the third consecutive day against the three contentious farm laws newly passed by the Centre. Agitated, farmers dug in their heels at Delhi’s border points, their numbers swelling through the day as many more joined them, and hundreds gathered in the city united in their demand for a guaranteed minimum support price (MSP). Also Read - Punjab Aam Admi Party MLAs to Move Towards Delhi on Tractors to Support Farmers On Monday
Roads and highways were blocked across Delhi borders even as the farmers were allowed to hold “peaceful protests”. Farmers also refused to budge from their demonstration at Jantar Mantar leading to yet another day of violent confrontation at the Delhi-Haryana borders. Also Read - Farmers' Republic Day Tractor Rally: Tableaux to Showcase Protest Against Agri Laws, Village Life
At the same time, Punjab and Haryana chief ministers got into a scuffle after CM Manohar Lal Khattar alleged that his counterpart, Captain Singh refused to take his calls multiple times. Also Read - Thousands of Maharashtra Farmers Reach Mumbai to Protest Agri Laws, to Hold Rally at Azad Maidan Today
Here are the top developments of the day:
1. 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 of they hold protests in a “structured” place, as designated.
2. Unhappy with the Shah’s conditional deal, farmers’ unions said they will hold a meeting on Sunday morning to decide on a response to the home minister.
3. Meanwhile, the Delhi Police sealed the Singhu border again from both sides. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba Chowk & GTK road. Please avoid outer ring road from Signature Bridge to Rohini & vice versa, GTK Road, NH 44 & Singhu border, it said. Tikri border has also been shut for the past two days.
4. As farmers refused to retract their demands, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar alleged that “some political parties and organisations are sponsoring” the farmers’ stir against the Centre’s farm laws. He also targeted Punjab CM Amarinder Singh for not taking his calls and even claimed that the protest may have “Khalistani” influences.
5. Punjab’s Captain Singh responded saying Haryana CM Khattar was lying. He added that now, “after what he has done to my farmers, I’ll not speak to him even if he calls me 10 times”.
6. At the Ghazipur border too, some farmers from Uttar Pradesh gathered ready to join the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. 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.
7. Seeing the days-long agitation by farmers at Tikari and Singhu borders as well as Burari in Delhi, a couple of good samaritans on Saturday afternoon offered free ‘langar seva’ or community kitchen food there to ensure that no one goes hungry.
8. After a restive Friday that saw police using teargas shells, water cannons and multi-layer barriers to block the protesters and some farmers pelting stones and breaking barricades in their determination to push through as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, it was a relatively quieter Saturday.
9. 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.
10. 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.