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Deadlock Over Agri Laws Persists as Over 30 Farmer Unions Reject Centre's Offer to Shift Protest Site

Farmers continue their protest against the farm laws at Singhu border (Delhi-Haryana border).

Farmers continue their protest against the farm laws at Singhu border (Delhi-Haryana border).

Farmers will address the media at 4 pm on Sunday.

Over 30 farmer associations from Punjab have decided to reject Union Home Minister Amit Shah's offer to shift their protests to Burari Ground, after he said the government was open to talks before December 3 for the discussion of protesters' demands.

Farmers will address the media at 4 pm on Sunday.

After spending another night in 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, with farmer leaders deliberating upon their future course of action about proposed talks with the government. With many roads and entry points being blocked, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had appealed to the farmers to shift to the Burari ground and 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 that now that some of their unions have demanded that talks be held immediately, the central government is ready to do so as soon as the protesters shift to the ground in Burari. "There is a crucial meeting today to decide future course of action. We will stay put till then and decide accordingly. In any situation, we will not call off the protest till our demands are met," Brij Singh, one of the farmers at Singhu border had said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the Centre's agriculture laws had opened up new possibilities for farmers. "The Parliament of India gave legal shape to agricultural reforms. These reforms have not only ended many bonds of farmers, but they have also got new rights, new opportunities too," said Modi, addressing the nation through his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.

Responding, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said Modi was adamant that the agriculture laws were great, which were instead a "stain on farmers". "ML Khattar is calling farmers anti social elements, Amit Malviya is calling them Khalistani. These farmers are protesting peacefully, they want to talk to the government but they have been told nothing till December 3," he said.

He alleged that Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to satisfy big industrialists. "PM spoke about farmers in 'Mann Ki Baat today'. But won't address the people who are losing their income to industrialists. He is hurting farmers and small businesses," Surjewala added.

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. After a restive Friday that saw police using teargas shells, water cannons and multi-layer barriers to block the protesters and some farmers pelting stones and breaking barricades in their determination to push through as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' march, Saturday was quiet.

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 PTI)