With permissions in place, farmers camping on the borders of Delhi are all set to take out a massive tractor rally in the national capital on Republic Day, as a mark of demonstration in support of their demand to repeal the three farm laws.
Delhi Police said they have allowed the farmers at each protesting site to take out a rally across a 64-km stretch albeit with restrictions and tight security. Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) Dependra Pathak said, “The rally will be conducted amid tight security after the Republic Day parade is over. We have received intelligence inputs hinting at disturbance of the peaceful protest.”
He said the rally would enter Delhi from Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders (where the farmers are currently camped) and return to its points of origin. Noting that the limit to the number of tractors will be finalised soon, Pathak said,“We trust the farmers that they will not camp in the Capital. Barricades and other security arrangements will be removed on January 26.”
Farmer leaders from Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) in a press conference confirmed that the farmers at Singhu border will pass through Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana, Auchandi border and KMP expressway before returning to the originating point. The distance will be around 62 km.
From Tikri border, the tractors will pass through Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda and KMP Expressway. Police will clear a route of around 64 km for the march. From Ghazipur border, a route of 46 km has been cleared as the rally will pass through 56-ft-road, and cross the Apsara border, Hapur road and reach KGP Expressway (Eastern Peripheral Expressway).
Tricolour, flags of farmers’ unions and posters with anti-government slogans written on them, tractor-trailers in long and colourful cavalcades can be seen leaving for Delhi. Several organisations are distributing essentials like ration, mattresses and quilts among the participants. Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan is also planning to march with tableaus.
Instructions to farmers
The SKM said only tractors and trolleys with tableaus will be allowed in the rally. “No one should carry a weapon, “not even sticks”; and a maximum of five people can ride on one tractor. No one will ride on the bonnet, bumper or roof of tractors,” it said in a statement.
SKM instructed farmers that they should pack 24 hours of ration and water, and make arrangements for protection from cold in case they are stuck in traffic jams. The group stressed the need to ensure that the march is peaceful.
“Through this parade, we have to tell the country and the world about our plight, but our victory lies in the parade being taken out in a very peaceful manner. Our aim is not to conquer Delhi, but to win over the hearts of the people of this county,” instructions issued by the group said.
The SKM said the tractors should not overtake cars carrying farmers’ leaders and there should be no overtaking during the march or playing of music on the tractors.
Unhappy with the route
BKU Ugrahan said that it is not happy with the routes assigned to the protesters at Tikri border. “The route plan from Tikri border does not suit every organisation. The suggested route says the tractor march should move from Tikri to Nangloi, but we cannot reach Nangloi as vehicles of other organisations will come in our way,” Shingara Singh, vice-president of BKU Ugrahan told reporters.
BKU Ugrahan and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee held a meeting with the police regarding the issue on Monday. Sarwan Singh Pandher, president of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said that they told Delhi police officials that their organisation will take out a march on the Outer Ring Road.
“Delhi Police should tell us why they are objecting to the rally. They are trying to defame our protest. I appeal to youngsters that taking out peaceful protest is our responsibility. Police said Punjabis are aggressive but we also know how to use the sword of peace,” he said.
“No matter what the government and police do, we will stay peaceful. We appeal to police that we should be granted permission to march on the Outer Ring Road,” he said.
Joginder Singh Ugrahan from BKU Ugrahan said that they have informed police about their preferred route. “Police did not react much but we are taking it as a yes and we will do our march on the Outer Ring Road.”
He said that the police maintained that the march will be 160 km, but our protest will be 540 km, “Police also said that the number of tractors will be 13,000, but let me clarify that the number of tractors to participate in the tractor march will be more than 3 lakh and the route can accommodate 6 lakh tractors,” Ugrahan added.