More farmers gather at Delhi entry points as protests enters Day 4; BKU, others reject Burari, demand nod for Jantar Mantar
Meanwhile, the Haryana Police booked state BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers on attempt to murder, rioting, causing obstruction in government duty and other charges for violations during their 'Delhi Chalo' march
Four days since farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and others undertook the 'Delhi Chalo' march to register their protest against the Centre's recent farm laws, their number swelled up on Saturday as more arrived at multiple border entry points to the National Capital.
While around four hundred farmers are currently parked at the Sant Nirankari Ground in Delhi's Burari, an area designated by the Delhi Police for the farmers' protest, reports said that several farmers groups have decided to stay put at the border entry points, most notably the Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi.
Prominent collectives like the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) have refused to move to the Burari ground, demanding that they be allowed to proceed to Jantar Mantar as per their initial plan.
At the Burari ground, slogans such as 'Dharti Mata Ki Jai', 'Narendra Modi Kisan Virodhi' and 'Inquilab Zindabad' could be heard. As some farmer leaders gave speeches, farmers danced to drumbeats and the strains of Hum Honge Kaamyab could also be heard.
Some groups of farmers from Uttar Pradesh gathered at the Ghazipur border with their vehicles on Saturday afternoon, lending support to the agitation by their counterparts from Punjab and Haryana, PTI reported.
A senior Delhi Police officer said that around 200 farmers arrived at Uttar Pradesh Gate (Ghazipur border) as part of the 'Delhi Chalo' march.
"The protesting farmers have parked their vehicles in line at the designated spot to avoid any inconvenience to the public and ensure a smooth flow of traffic," he said.
"The farmers wan to proceed towards Delhi but we are talking to them. At present, there are around 200 of them. They are sitting at UP Gate," said Jasmeet Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East).
Farmers stay put at Delhi borders; no decision on shifting to Burari ground yet
Thousands of farmers protesting against the Centre's new farm laws stayed put at the Singhu and Tikri borders amid heavy police presence, as of 6.25 pm on Saturday, PTI reported.
"At present, we are here (at the Delhi border). We have still not decided on going to the Burari ground. We will have a meeting in the evening to decide the next course of action," Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said over the phone.
However, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of the largest farmer organisations in Punjab, asserted that they would not go to the Burari ground in Delhi.
"We urge the Union government to give us a place at Jantar Mantar for the agitation. We will not go to the Burari ground at any cost," said Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) senior vice-president Jhanda Singh Jethuke.
Meanwhile, reports said that more Punjab farmers en route to the National Capital resumed their 'Delhi Chalo' march on Saturday morning after halting for the night to join thousands who have already reached the National Capital's borders.
BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) leaders claimed that over one lakh farmers, including elderly women, are marching to Delhi in tractor-trailers, buses and other vehicles.
"We have ration for five to six months to sustain ourselves. We will not return till the Centre scraps the new farm laws," a protesting farmer said.
"We have reached close to the Delhi border. But we are stuck because of traffic snarls. Our farmers who are in tractor-trailers are still behind us," Jethuke said.
Farmers have brought ration, vegetables, utensils, wood and other essentials for their march. In view of cold weather conditions, they have stocked quilts, blankets and covered their trolleys with tarpaulin.
Farmers associated with the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) said they entered Haryana on Saturday for their march to Delhi.
"Our farmers are expected to reach Delhi late in the evening," said KMSC general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher.
Earlier in the day, BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) leader Shingara Singh said farmers again started heading towards Delhi in the morning after a night halt at Meham in Rohtak district of Haryana. Another group of farmers made a night halt at Julana in Haryana's Jind district, he said.
Farmers with the outfit had on Friday broken through police barricades at Khanauri and Dabwali borders between Punjab and Haryana.
Punjab farmers in large numbers had on Friday crossed the state's border with Haryana. Some even faced water cannons and teargas.
Meanwhile, numbers swelled at the Singhu border point as farmers who were already gathered there were joined by more protesters and they refused to move towards the Sant Nirankari Ground in Burari.
After a meeting at the Singhu border entry point, a farmer leader said they would continue their protest there.
"We will not move from here (Singhu border entry point) and continue our fight. We will not return home. Thousands of farmers have come from Punjab and Haryana to join the protest," he said.
Protesting farmers charged with attempt to murder, rioting in Haryana
The Haryana Police booked state BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and several farmers with attempt to murder, rioting, causing obstruction in government duty and other charges for violations during their "Delhi Chalo" march.
Cases were registered on 26 November under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing any public servant in discharge of public functions) and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) among others at the Parao police station on a complaint from Head Constable Pardeep Kumar as hundreds of farmers assembled on the GT road near Ambala Cantt to proceed towards Delhi.
The FIR names Charuni and several other unknown farmers as accused.
According to it, the BKU Haryana chief and others had gathered near Mohra village in Ambala. The FIR says Deputy Superintendent of Police Ram Kumar, who was leading the police team at the spot, asked Charuni not to proceed further but he refused.
It adds that Charuni and other farmers broke police barricades with their tractors.
"Some of the police officials had a narrow escape and could have been run over by the tractors heading towards Delhi," says the FIR.
Charuni and other farmers also violated guidelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it further states.
A case against some farmers from BKU (Charuni) and others from Punjab was also registered at Panipat for violations relating to breaking police barriers and other charges.
"A case has been registered under the provisions of section 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Disaster Management Act, 2005 and under other provisions of the IPC," Inspector Rajvir Singh, SHO of Panipat's Police Station (Industrial) in Sector 29, said over the phone.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC had been imposed in several parts of Haryana to prevent the assembly of people.
Traffic hit in Delhi as police keep Singhu, Tikri borders closed
Traffic was affected on key roads in Delhi on Saturday 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.
"Tikri border is closed for traffic movement. Available open borders to Haryana are — Jharoda, Dhansa, Daurala Jhatikara, Badusari, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam vihar and Dundahera border," it posted on Twitter.
The traffic police said the Singhu border was still closed from both the sides.
"Please take an alternate route. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba Chowk & GTK road. Traffic is very very heavy. Please avoid outer ring road from Signature Bridge to Rohini and vice versa, GTK Road, NH 44 & Singhu border," it tweeted.
"We appeal to commuters to avoid travelling towards the Singhu and Tikri borders, Mukarba Chowk, NH-44, GT-Karnal Road and Outer Ring Road," Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Meenu Chaudhary said.
With Saturday being a holiday for most office goers, the traffic situation in other parts is better than Friday, she said.
Stir 'sponsored', says Khattar; Congress urges Centre for dialogue
While Congress and other parties urged the Centre to engage in dialogue with the farmers, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar alleged that some political parties and organisations are "sponsoring" the stir.
Facing criticism from various Opposition parties for the Haryana government's handling of the farmers' protest, Khattar also hit out at Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, claiming that despite wanting to talk to him over the issue, he did not respond even when telephone calls to his office were made for three days.
Claiming a conspiracy, Khattar told reporters in Gurgaon that officials in the Punjab Chief Minister's Office are giving directions to the protesting farmers from Punjab.
The stir has been build up by farmers from Punjab and some political parties and organisations are sponsoring it, he said. Khattar claimed that Haryana farmers have not participated in the stir.
"For this, I want to thank Haryana farmers," he said.
"I also appreciate the Haryana Police that for past 2-3 days since this issue (Delhi Chalo march) started, they exercised restraint and did not use any force," he said.
The chief minister also alleged that some people are grinding their own political axe, which needs to be condemned.
When asked if he tried to speak to Singh before the farmers' march, Khattar said, "My office told me that they tried to contact him over the telephone on six to seven occasions and every time his staff used to say we will soon get back and then they used to give the plea that the chief minister was busy in a meeting and so on.
"But it was a very strange situation that the chief minister of a state wants to talk to his counterpart of other state but is unable to get through after so many attempts. For six years, I have been a chief minister. Never before such a thing has happened. We even talk to Opposition leaders."
He added, "Earlier too, I have been having telephone conversations with the Punjab chief minister and even when he was busy, he used to call back after 30 or 60 minutes. This time for three days attempts to reach him were made, but he didn't respond."
On Saturday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blamed the tense situation on Delhi's borders to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "arrogance".
The Congress also said it would have been better if the prime minister talked to the protesting farmers instead of getting "himself photographed in corporate offices".
"This is a very sad photo. Our slogan was 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan', but today a soldier is standing against the farmer due to PM Modi's arrogance. This is very dangerous," he said in a tweet in Hindi along with the picture of a soldier showing a baton to an old farmer.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused Modi of getting pictures clicked in corporate offices while farmers are protesting on Delhi roads.
"Wish the PM talks to farmers on the road instead of flying in the aircraft," he said in a tweet after Modi visited a company in Ahmedabad which is engaged in the COVID-19 vaccine research.
Another spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi claimed whoever protests against the Modi government is "deemed a terrorist".
"Poor farmers from Punjab pointing out genuine grievances have been labelled Khalistani. Why doesn't Modi come out and address the annadata however, only demands of them during elections," he tweeted.
Party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also tweeted similar pictures of farmers being prevented by the police from marching towards Delhi, where they wish to hold a protest against the new farm laws.
Amit Shah asks farmers to move to Burari ground
On Saturday night, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Central Government is ready to hold talks with the farmers before 3 December provided they agree to move protests to the designated Burari ground.
"I appeal to the protesting farmers that govt of India is ready to hold talks. The agriculture minister has invited them on 3 December 3 for discussion. The government is ready to deliberate on every problem and demand of the farmers," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
"At many places, farmers are staying with their tractors and trollies on highways in this cold. I appeal to them that Delhi Police are ready to shift you to big ground, please go there. You will be given police permission to hold programmes there.
"If farmers' unions want to hold a discussion before 3 December then, I want to assure you all that as soon as you shift your protest to the designated place, our government will hold talks to address your concerns the very next day," he added.
With inputs from agencies
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