Protesting farmers’ forum rejects early talks offer, sit-in to continue at Delhi borders
The joint forum of 30 farmers unions have rejected Centre’s offer of early talks in a unanimous decision and said they were against any precondition to talks to resolve a deadlock over the three farm laws passed recently by the Parliament. The Central government had offered to advance the talks if the farmer groups protesting against the farm laws at Delhi’s borders agreed to move to a designated venue at Burari in the national capital.
President of Sidhupur faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Jagjit Singh Dalewal, said that the forum’s decision was taken in the meeting held at Singhu border. He stressed that farmers will talk to the Centre only if there is no pre-condition.
“Venue for holding a protest is no longer our demand. Our supporters are on road at various places leading to Delhi and the indefinite dharna has begun. It has been resolved that talks with the Centre are possible only if they sent an invitation without any pre-condition. We will send a written reply to the Union minister and home secretary detailing reasons for rejection of the conditioned offer,” said Dalewal, leader of a key constituent of the joint forum of farmers. He denied there was an invitation from the Centre for talks on December 1.
The meeting at Singhu border was called in light of a late Saturday missive sent by Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla to all the 32 farmer unions protesting for the last two days. It stated that a high-powered group of ministers was ready to hold talks with a delegation of farmers. The message further stated that the authorities would were willing to advance the talks if the protesting farmers moved to the earmarked protest site in Burari in Delhi.
The next round of talks was otherwise originally scheduled to take place on December 3.
A section of farmers had expressed a strong reservation against holding protests at Burari as it is associated with the Nirankari sect. A farmer leader said that the unions had no plans to vacate the roads leading to Delhi, and the blockades on Bahadurgarh and Chandigarh highways may continue till Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the Ughrahan faction of the BKU, one of the most active in Punjab, is yet to take a clear stand on the matter. “Our union leaders will soon hold talks with the joint forum before taking a decision,” Ughrahan said.
Earlier today, Ughrahan had stated that the group wanted to hold a demonstration at Jantar Mantar.
A large gathering of Ughrahan faction is stationed on the outskirts of Delhi near Bahadurgarh in Haryana’s Jhajjar district. “As of now, a caravan of our activists is stationed at the Delhi border. We could not move to enter the national capital due to the huge rush of farmers heading to Delhi for protests,” he said.
General secretary of Dakonda faction of the BKU, Jagmohan Singh, said all 32 farmer unions of Punjab are united and any further course of protests would be decided with unanimity.