New Delhi: Shouting slogans, singing songs and carrying flags in reds, greens and blues, about 400 farmers from various groups and states on Saturday gathered at north Delhi's Burari ground where the government had allowed them to hold a peaceful protest against the new farm laws.
While thousands of farmers sat it out at various border points into Delhi for the third consecutive day, many made their way into the national capital and gathered at the Nirankari ground, one of the largest in the city.
The farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana and also from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, arrived in trucks and tractors.
Slogans such as Dharti Mata Ki Jai, Narendra Modi Kisan Virodhi and Inquilab Zindabad could be heard from different parts of the vast, dusty ground. As some farmer leaders gave speeches, farmers danced to drumbeats and the strains of Hum Honge Kaamyab could also be heard.
Amid the cheerful cacophony from farmers who said they were determined to make their point, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti struck up a chorus of Chahe Kuch Bhi Karlo Hum Badhte Jaenge.
The Bangla Sahib gurdwara set up a langar' to feed the protesters. Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party government had also made provisions for food. An e-rickshaw moved around spreading awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of wearing masks.
The unprecedented unity of the farmers will put pressure on the government to withdraw the three anti-farmer acts, social activist Medha Patkar, who was at Burari with a group of men and women, told NDTV.
She said it was a decentralised movement and the protest was against the vulgar inequity in the country.
Farmers at Singhu, Tikri borders stay put
Numbers swelled at the Singhu border point as farmers gathered there were joined by more counterparts from Punjab and Haryana and they refused to move towards the Sant Nirankari Ground, one of the biggest in the national capital.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Northern range) Surender Singh Yadav, who took stock of security arrangements at the Singhu border, told reporters that around 600 to 700 farmers have so far reached the north Delhi ground.
Yadav said police and administration have made sufficient arrangements for the farmers at the designated protest site, adding that he hoped more would go there.
On Saturday morning, protesting farmers from Punjab and Haryana gathered at the Singhu border, one of the main routes used to access the city from Punjab, held a meeting to decide their next course of action.
After the meeting, a farmer leader said they would continue their protest there at the border.
"We will not move from here (Singhu Border) and continue our fight. We will not return home. Thousands of farmers have come from Punjab and Haryana to join the protest," he said.
Another farmer said they would sit at the border and not move to the Nirankari Ground.
"We will not go to new protest site, and we will continue our protest at the national highway," he said.
On Friday, hundreds of farmers entered the national capital to hold a peaceful protest at the Sant Nirankari Ground after facing teargas and water cannons and clashing with security personnel while thousands remained at border points, undecided whether to go to the demonstration site identified by police.
The day witnessed police using teargas shells, water cannons and multi-layer barriers to block the protesters and the farmers pelting stones and breaking barricades in some places in their determination to push through as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' march against the Centre's new farm laws.
The farmers at the Tikri border seem to have come prepared for a long haul. They have brought utensils to cook food and are charging their phones in their vehicles.
Farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws have expressed apprehension that the laws would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.
Some 500 farmers' organisations from six states -- Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Kerala -- had planned the November 26-27 march for two months to press the central government to repeal the recently enacted farm laws.
Under the laws enacted in September that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a watershed for agriculture, farmers are free to sell their produce anywhere, including to big corporate buyers, instead of at government-regulated wholesale markets where farmers are assured of a minimum procurement price. Many farmer organisations oppose the new law, saying it would leave small growers with little bargaining power.
They also say they fear the government will eventually withdraw price support for wheat and rice. The government says there is no plan to eliminate the wholesale markets.
(With PTI inputs)