Rejecting the central government's offer to hold talks once they move to the Burari ground, agitating farmers who have been staying put at Delhi's borders for four days said on Sunday they will not end the blockade.
Meanwhile, they have put forward a list of demands to the Centre, as part of their stir against the new farm laws.
List of demands put forward by the farmers:
1. After a meeting of over 30 farmer groups on Sunday, their representatives said they will not move to the Burari ground as it is an "open jail".
2. They said the farmers will not accept any conditional dialogue and will block all five entry points to Delhi as long as their demands aren't heard without 'conditions'. Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav is part of a 7-member committee of farmers that took the decision to turn down the offer.
3. The farmers demand that the central government must take back the farm laws and nothing short of that will be acceptable.
4. The unions have demanded that all the protesting farmers who have been detained by the authorities be released promptly.
5. There are other subsidiary demands as well — such as the repealing of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, based on the concern that the agricultural community will face a crisis regarding irrigation of crops if the subsidy on electricity provided to the poor strata of the society is discontinued.
6. The farmers have also asked for oil prices to be controlled.
Burari Ground — an 'open jail'?
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had a day ago appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground and had said the Centre was ready to hold discussions with them as soon as they move to the designated place.
A delegation of the farmers has been invited for a discussion on December 3, he said, adding now that some of their unions have demanded that talks should be held immediately, the central government is ready to do so as soon as the protesters shift to the ground in Burari.
However, the protest leaders rejected the offer from the Home Minister and said that the condition put for talks was an "insult" to the farmers.
"The condition laid down by Home Minister Amit Shah is not acceptable to us. We will not hold any conditional talks. We reject the government's offer. The blockade will not end. We will block all five entry point to Delhi," Surjeet S Phul, Bhartiya Kisan Union's Punjab president, told reporters.
"The condition put for talks is an insult to farmers. We will never go to Burari. It is not a park but an open jail," he added.
Farmers continue to protest on cold highways
After spending another night in the cold, thousands of farmers continued to protest against the Centre's new agri laws on the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, staying put at the Singhu and Tikri border points.
"If the government is serious about addressing the demands of the farmers, it should stop laying down conditions, should stop assuming that the dialogue can be about an explanation to farmers about the benefits of the Acts," said a representative of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of farmers' groups.
Joginder Singh, president of Bhartiya Kisan Ektagrah, "We are sitting at the borders. Our demand is that the government take back the farm laws and we will not accept anything less than that".
Protesters ready for the long haul
Meanwhile, farmers who had reached Nirankarai Samagam Ground in Burari on Saturday continued their protest there.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also termed Shah's offer to hold discussions at the earliest as the best in the interest of the farming community and the nation at large. On Saturday, he had urged the farmers to accept the appeal and shift to the designated place for their protest.
The farmers have come prepared for a long haul, their vehicles loaded with rations, utensils, quilts and blankets for the cold and equipped with even charging points for their phones.
No untoward incident was reported on Saturday. But the tension persisted with restless crowds milling around the city's edges and beyond and settling down from another night out in the cold.
(With inputs from agencies)