Farmers continue to camp at Delhi’s borders
Farmers’ groups continued to camp at the Delhi border for the third consecutive day on Sunday despite the Delhi Police having allowed them to enter the city and gather at the Sant Nirankari Ground in Burari.
While the arterial roads at both Singhu and Tikri borders continued to remain closed, police said the farmer groups are peaceful and that no clashes were reported after Friday, when the groups first arrived at the borders and faced off with officials after being stopped from entering the Capital.
Deputy commissioner of police (outer-north) Gaurav Sharma said the situation is normal at Singhu Border that connects Delhi with Haryana. “Our deployment is intact and the protesters are also peaceful,” he said.
A police officer said the groups have even stopped sloganeering, unlike Friday and Saturday. “Some of them, especially the elderly men, even returned by Saturday night. But the rest, thousands of them, who have refused to take Burari ground as the protest site, remain at camps here,” the officer said.
On Friday and Saturday, a small group of farmers that arrived at the Burari ground comprised either those who had gathered at the Tikri Border or the ones who had entered Delhi but were detained. They have camped at the ground since then as the police and paramilitary continue to keep the area fortified.
Police also said that the farmer groups are still indecisive about whether they should accept the Burari ground as the protest site; their initial demand was Ramlila Maidan which is closer to the Lutyens Delhi. The farmers wished to march up to Jantar Mantar and Parliament house when they arrived on Friday. A little over 100 of them who had managed to sneak in were detained from Jantar Mantar and other areas of the city on the same day.
It was then the police offered them the Burari ground as a protest site. The offer was made after a series of clashes at both the borders on Friday. On Friday, the police had also closed two other border roads -- the Dhansa border and the Jharoda Kalan border -- for traffic as a precautionary measure even through there were no protesters there.
Farmers are protesting against the government’s moves to open up agricultural markets in the country and bring sweeping reforms to the farm sector, which supports nearly half the population.
Farmers have demanded a repeal of three laws enacted by Parliament in September which, together, allow agribusinesses to freely trade farm produce without restrictions, permit private traders to stockpile large quantities of essential commodities for future sales and lay down new rules for contract farming.
Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations, erode their bargaining power and weaken the government’s minimum support price (MSP) system, which offers cultivators assured prices from the government, largely for wheat and rice.
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and railways, food and consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal held day-long negotiations on November 13 with leaders of several farmers’ groups in attempt to end over two months of a politically challenging agitation. The discussions were inconclusive, but both sides had agreed to continue negotiations in the future.