Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav on Sunday said that farmers protesting against the Centre’s agricultural laws will take out tractor parade in Delhi during the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, ANI reported. The farmer unions also alleged that the National Investigation Agency has started filing cases against those who are supporting the agitation.
At a press conference, Yadav said no disruption will be caused to the official Republic Day parade. “The parade will be very peaceful,” he added. “The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors.”
The farmers said their 50-km parade will be held in the Outer Ring Road, the road encircling the city, according to NDTV.
The Supreme Court will hear the Centre’s application seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally on Monday. On January 12, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde had issued a notice on the application to the farmer unions.
In its application filed through the Delhi Police, the government cited the historical and constitutional significance of Republic Day, and said the farmers’ march was aimed to “disturb and disrupt” the celebrations. “Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation,” it read.
The NIA has summoned around 40 persons, including farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa, for questioning in a case registered against the Sikhs for Justice, a foreign-based group that advocates secessionist and pro-Khalistani activities in India.
Krantikari Kisan Union chief Darshan Pal said all the farmer unions condemn this action by the central agency to target them. “We will fight this in every possible way,” he added.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, a senior leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of farmer unions, told the Hindustan Times that no farmer who has received such notices for questioning will appear before the agency. “There are many organisations which are helping us in so many ways by organising langars [canteens], logistics, tents etc,” he said. “The government is trying to threaten them and weaken the agitation through harassment. We have decided that no farmer who have got these notices will appear before the NIA as a mark of protest.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for over 50 days, with at least nine rounds of talks between the government and farmers’ groups failing to resolve the deadlock. The two sides are set to next meet on January 19. Farmers have promised to march during Republic Day celebrations on January 26, if the government does not repeal the laws that they say would benefit large corporate buyers at their expense.
Farmers’ around-the-clock sit-ins in cold weather have already led to some deaths among them. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.