The Delhi Police on Sunday granted permission to farmers protesting the new agricultural laws to go ahead with their tractor rally on January 26, but only after the annual Republic Day celebrations conclude, PTI reported, quoting Special Commissioner of Police Intelligence Deependra Pathak.
This came a day after a section of farmers claimed they had reached an agreement with the police on the route of their planned rally, with only final details left to be worked out.
“We have finally decided, we have agreed that we will have tractor rally also on that day [Republic Day] maintaining the sanctity and security arrangements of the Republic Day celebrations,” Pathak said, according to ANI. “For the security arrangements of the tractor rally, we will be providing required police deployment realising that there are elements of threat to create disturbance in the rally.”
Pathak claimed that over 300 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally, reported PTI. “There are inputs about the same from different agencies too,” the police official added, without elaborating. “It will be a challenging task for us but the rally will be conducted amid tight security after the Republic Day parade is over.”
Unhappy with the way talks have progressed so far, tens and thousands of farmers plan to intensify their protest against the new reforms by organising the massive tractor rally on January 26. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had declined a government petition to ban the event, following which the protestors approached the Delhi Police to work out a mutually acceptable solution.
The final decision was made after two rounds of meeting between the two sides, according to NDTV. “Today [Sunday] there was a short meeting with officers of Delhi Police,” Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav said. “We have got formal permission from Police for the tractor rally. As I told earlier, ‘Kisan Gantantra Parade’ will be held on January 26 in a peaceful manner.”
The Delhi Police said the protestors would be allowed to enter the city to access the Ring Road, which passes through several areas of Delhi such as Vikaspuri, Janakpuri, Uttam Nagar, Burari, Peeragarhi and Pitampura. Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma said that all personnel posted for duty at the Republic Day parade, would have to be ready to take on extra responsibility under short notice, given the farmers’ protests.
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.
Farmer leaders on January 21 rejected an offer from the government to suspend the contentious laws for 18 months and set up a committee to look into their concerns about the legislations. Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a coalition of farmers’ unions, said they will settle for nothing less than a complete repeal of the laws.
The Centre, however, told farmers that this was the most it was willing to offer. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said the discussions could continue only if the farmers accept the Centre’s proposal.