Farmers protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws on Saturday claimed to have the Delhi Police’s permission to hold a tractor rally on Republic Day in Delhi, following multiple discussions with authorities on the demonstration, reported NDTV. However, there has been no confirmation from the police.
Following the 11th round of discussions on Friday, farmer groups had said they would go ahead with the tractor rally on Republic Day. The negotiations between the farmer unions and the Centre hit an impasse on Friday after representatives of the protestors stood firm on their demand for a complete repeal of the new agriculture laws.
Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said they will take out a “historical and peaceful parade” that will not come in the way of the Republic Day parade or the security arrangements. “Farmers will take out ‘Kisan Gantantra Parade’ on January 26,” Yadav said, according to ANI. “Barricades will be opened and we will enter Delhi. We [farmers and Delhi Police] have reached an agreement on the route, final details are to be worked out tonight.”
The tractor rallies are likely to begin from the Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points of Delhi, farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar told PTI after attending a meeting between the unions and the police. He claimed that the Delhi Police has given its approval to the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni appealed to participating farmers to “maintain discipline” and follow the instructions, issued by the committee, reported ANI.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, several groups of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out in their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to participate in the rally in Delhi. The vehicles carried the flags of the farm unions, some with the tricolour, and posters with slogans of ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’, ‘No Farmer, No Food’ and ‘Kaale Kanoon Radd Karo’, according to PTI.
“Over 30,000 tractors and trolleys today moved from Khanauri [in Sangrur, Punjab] and Dabwali [in Sirsa district, Haryana] to join the tractor parade in Delhi,” said Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan. They are expected to reach the Tikri border on Saturday night.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi for nearly 60 days, demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws passed in September. 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.
After the meeting on Friday, farm union representatives said their protests will intensify, and claimed that the government’s approach during the discussions was not correct. At the outset, the farm leaders informed the government about their decision to reject its proposal made on Wednesday.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the discussions hit a roadblock as the farmers’ welfare was not at the “heart of the talks from the unions’ side”. He added that the talks can continue only if the farmers agreed to the Centre’s proposal of temporarily pausing the implementation of the laws, and forming a joint committee to reach a solution.