Farmer leaders on Saturday said they have received permission to enter Delhi for their tractor rally that is slated to be staged on Republic Day. Delhi Police has given permission for the tractor parade on January 26, claimed farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar after protesting unions met the police, according to news agency PTI.
The route will, however, be finalised on Sunday, sources told CNN-News. The tractor parades will start from the Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points of Delhi, but details will be finalised later on Saturday night, said Kohar after attending a meeting between the unions and the police.
Another farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said as thousands of farmers will participate in the parade, there will be no single route. Farmer leader Darshan Pal said barricades set up at Delhi border points will be removed on January 26 and farmers will take out tractor rallies after entering the national capital.
Over two lakh tractors will be part of the parade and around 2,500 volunteers will be deployed to facilitate the movement of the vehicles, said the unions. The number of volunteers can be increased, depending on the crowd, and a control room has been set up to look into the arrangements, they said.
Kirti Kisan Union president Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, who presided over a meeting of Punjab farmers’ unions, said that more than one lakh tractors are expected to arrive from the state on Sunday. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss about the tractor parade to be taken on Republic Day, Singh said after the over three-hour-long meeting at Singhu.
Several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out in their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor parade on January 26 in the national capital. Carrying some ration, mattresses and other essentials, cavalcades of tractors left for Delhi to press the Centre to accept their demands.
Tractors carried the flags of the unions, some sported the tricolour, and also posters with slogans of ‘Kisan Ekta Zindabad’,’No Farmer, No Food’ and ‘Kaale Kanoon Radd Karo’. Farmer unions protesting the Centre’s three farm laws had said they would go ahead with their tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. They had announced to take out the tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi.
Farmer leaders said that the tractor parade would be peaceful. “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 on Saturday.
They are expected to reach the Tikri border on Saturday night. Some farmers even mounted tractors on trailers and a few even towed their tractors in order to save diesel, said the farmer leaders.
“Some loaded their tractors in trailers and some even towed their vehicles in order to save fuel,” said Kokrikalan. Similarly, a cavalcade of around 1,000 tractors left from Phagwara area and 150 tractors from Hoshiarpur in Punjab to become part of the parade, said the farmer leaders.
A farmer leader in Barnala said they were getting a very good response to the call for joining the tractor parade. “Youth and elders are going in their tractors towards Delhi in a peaceful manner,” he said. A batch of tractors and other vehicles from Fatehabad in Haryana also left for Delhi to join the parade, they said. Many farmers from Karnal and other districts would leave for the national capital on Sunday.
Independent MLA from Dadri in Haryana, Sombir Sangwan, who recently withdrew his support to the Khattar government over farmers’ issue, told reporters on Saturday that the Centre will have to agree to farmers’ demands. Sangwan, who had gone to meet protesting farmers at the Haryana-Rajasthan border near Rewari, also told reporters that farmers should be freely allowed to take part in tractor parade on January 26.
Kirpal Singh Moosapur, Vice-President, Bharati Kisan Union (Doaba) in Phagwara, Punjab, said, “More farmers with tractors will leave tomorrow as well. We expect over 5,000 tractors from Doaba region (in Punjab) alone to reach Delhi for the parade.” Moosapur slammed the Centre for not accepting farmers’ demands. “Farmers have been agitating at Delhi borders for the last several weeks but the Modi government has turned a deaf ear to their demands,” he said. Before heading for Delhi, many farmers got their tractors inspected from mechanics for any fault so they can have a hassle-free journey, said the farmer leaders.
At many places in Punjab and Haryana, tractor marches were taken out on Saturday to mobilise more people for the tractor parade. Meanwhile, some women in Bathinda said they have asked their male members who are at the Delhi borders not to worry about homes. “We are taking care of the farm and other works. We have told our male members to stay put until the demands are met,” said an elderly woman in Bathinda.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been camping at Delhi’s borders for several weeks, demanding the repeal of the farm laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for crops. They claim that the new laws will weaken the minimum support price (MSP) system. But the Centre says the MSP system will remain and the new laws only provide more options for farmers to sell their produce.