Amarinder urges farmers to accept Shah's appeal as protests continue at Delhi border points for third day
Shah on Saturday appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground in the national capital to stage their protest and said the Centre is ready to hold discussions with them as soon as possible.
CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday urged farmers to accept Union Home Minister Amit Shah's appeal and shift to the designated place for their protest, thus paving the way for early talks to resolve their issues.
Amid reports of Amit Shah's offer to hold discussions with farmers at the earliest, Amarinder Singh said it is in the best interest of the farming community and the nation at large.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground in the national capital to stage their protest and said the Centre is ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.
Shah's offer to advance talks with farmers from December 3 and his statement reflecting the Centre's willingness to listen to the farmers is a welcome step, said the CM in a statement here.
He said the only solution to the current stalemate over the farm laws issue is discussion.
Thousands of farmers protesting the Centre's new farms laws stayed put at the Singhu and Tikri borders with the national capital for the third consecutive day on Saturday amid heavy police presence even after being offered the Sant Nirankari ground in Burari to hold peaceful demonstrations.
Since the home minister has made it clear that the Centre is "ready to deliberate on every problem and demand" of the farmers and will hold talks the day after they shifted to the designated site in Delhi, the farmer leaders should also move forward, said the CM.
Only by sitting across the table can both sides come to a solution to the problem, he added.
Pointing out that the purpose of their protest was not to block highways and inconvenience people but to pressure the Union government to listen to their voice, said the CM.
The farmers have already won half the battle by bringing the Union government to the negotiating table without further delay.
In the circumstances, they should grab the Union home minister's offer and make the most of the opportunity to resolve the crisis triggered by the Union laws, said Amarinder Singh.
He and his government are prepared to extend their full support to these negotiations and were willing to mediate in the collective interest of all, Amarinder Singh reiterated.
The protesting farmers from Punjab also got support from their Uttar Pradesh counterparts when some groups from Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Ghaziabad gathered at the Ghazipur border and breached the first layer of barricades put up by the Delhi Police.
They, however, later decided to move back a few metres and stay put there.
The police were using drones to keep a tight vigil on the protest site where 600 farmers had gathered after entering Delhi.
At the Singhu border, protestors held a meeting and decided to stay put on Saturday night.
They said a crucial meeting will be held on Sunday to decide their next course of action.
"We held a meeting today and it was decided to stay put here. Tomorrow, there will be another meeting at 11 am and till then, we are at the Singhu border," Baljeet Singh Mahal, Jalandhar's unit president of Bhartiya Kisan Union Kadia, said.
During the day, numbers swelled at the Singhu border point as farmers gathered there were joined by more counterparts from Punjab and Haryana and they refused to move towards the Sant Nirankari Ground, one of the biggest in the national capital.
A farmer leader said they would continue their protest at the border and will not move to the Burari Ground -- a site identified by the Delhi Police for holding demonstrations.
"We will not move from here (Singhu border) and continue our fight. We will not return home. Thousands of farmers have come from Punjab and Haryana to join the protest," the farmer said.
"We will not go to the new protest site, and we will continue our protest at the national highway," another farmer said.
On Friday, hundreds of farmers entered the national capital to hold a peaceful protest at the Sant Nirankari Ground after facing teargas and water cannons and clashing with security personnel while thousands remained at border points, undecided whether to go to the demonstration site identified by police.
The day witnessed police using teargas shells, water cannons and multi-layer barriers to block the protesters and the farmers pelting stones and breaking barricades in some places in their determination to push through as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' march against the Centre's new farm laws.
A senior Delhi Police officer said around 200 farmers gathered at UP Gate (Ghazipur border) and most of them belonged to Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Ghaziabad.
They first breached the first set of barricades placed at the border but later after talks with senior police officers, they moved back to the UP Gate, the officer said.
At Sant Nirankari Ground, there were around 600 farmers.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Vijayanta Arya said "We are facilitating the movement of farmers who have come to Delhi. They are here at the designated ground. From our side, all the security arrangements are in place. We are in touch with the civic agencies for providing amenities that are required here."
Playing the 'dafli' and singing songs about distress, a number of students from different universities also joined the farmers in their protest at the Delhi-Haryana border at Singhu.
Arpan, a student from the Panjab University and a resident of Chandigarh, said she has joined the farmers' agitation as she felt an "emotional connection" with their land.
"We have come here along with farmers to support them. We have been living here with the farmers and are having food at the langars. We are also singing songs in Punjabi and Hindi to explain the condition of farmers," she said.
Meanwhile, traffic was affected on key roads in Delhi as police kept the Singhu and Tikri borders closed for vehicular movement in view of the ongoing farmers' agitation.
The Delhi Traffic Police tweeted that traffic movement was not allowed from Azadpur and Outer Ring Road to the Singhu border.
Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws have expressed apprehension that the laws would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.
The Centre has invited several Punjab farmer organisations for another round of talks in Delhi on December.