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Farmers decline Amit Shah’s offer, want panel named


An immediate resolution to the farmers’ crisis is not likely in sight as farmers, who have been protesting over the new agriculture laws, have declined Union home minister Amit Shah’s offer to shift their agitation to Burari grounds.

“The government has proposed to meet on December 3 for the fourth time. So, talks are already going on. Nobody should think that the government is not ready for it,” a senior official said.

“Govt is open for talks…farmers’ unions should create the atmosphere for it. They should leave the agitation and opt for talks,” agriculture minister NS Tomar said.

This comes a day after the Union home minister had asked farmers to move to Burari. Home secretary Ajay Bhalla had written to 31 farmers’ unions from Punjab, reiterating Shah’s appeal to move to the grounds in Northeastern Delhi, following which they will be called for a meeting by the Centre. Officials said South Block is trying to defuse the situation by involving the Haryana and Punjab governments.

The third round of talks between farmers’ groups and a high-level committee of union ministers is scheduled to be held at the Vigyan Bhavan on December 3. In his letter to the farmers’ unions, Bhalla wrote, “The government is ready to hold talks with representatives of farmers’ unions the very next day protesting farmers shift to Burari grounds.” The home secretary also said that large gatherings may lead to infections and the spread of the virus.

“Due to large gatherings of farmers on the national highways, traffic and normal lives have been disrupted. Keeping in mind the large number of protestors, the government has made adequate arrangements inside the ground where demonstrations can be held peacefully,” the home secretary stated. Farmers’ groups however have rejected the conditions for talks, saying they will not shift to the designated protest grounds in Burari for now.

Security at Delhi borders have been beefed up as officials feel that the numbers of protesting farmers are likely to swell with leaders and other groups joining them before moving forward. Six companies of paramilitary were deployed at the Tikri and Singhu borders while additional forces have been kept on standby.

Home Ministry officials said internal discussions are being held among various stakeholders, including the agriculture ministry and the Haryana and Punjab governments, to end the stalemate. “Several rounds of dialogue are being held with leaders and farmers’ bodies educating them about the benefits of the Acts,” a senior government official said.

Farmers are demanding the repeal of the new farm laws, which, they said, should be replaced with another set of legislation framed after wider consultation with the stakeholders. They also want a guarantee on the minimum support price and scrapping of fine for stubble burning.

On Friday, the Delhi Police allowed thousands of farmers to enter Delhi for a planned protest against the new Central farm laws. The farmers with tractors and trolleys carrying food and essential supplies for days had been trying to enter Delhi from multiple points, defying barricades and barbed wires put up by Delhi Police to restrict their entry.

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