Farmers gear up for Republic Day tractor rally: What we know so far

Delhi police allows tractor parade on R-Day

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A farmer stands near a tractor trolley with the Tricolor pasted on it, during their ongoing agitation against Centre's farm reform laws in New Delhi | Photo: PTI

Thousands of farmers opposing the Centre's new agri laws will enter the national capital with tractors on Republic Day as the Delhi Police has given its nod to the 'kisan tractor parade', farmer leaders claimed on Saturday. Around 25,000 tractors from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will participate in the 'kisan parade' in the National Capital on January 26, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said on Saturday. Farmers moving towards UP Gate from the two states on their tractor trolleys were intercepted by police in different districts but farmers will arrive here at any cost, he said. "No political person will be allowed to participate," the BKU national spokesperson said. District administrations are sending notices to farmers and mounting pressure on them not to participate in the rallies, citing Covid-19 norms and section 144 of the CrPC, he claimed.

Peaceful rally promised

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A farmer sits inside a tractor trolley with painted portrait of former prime minister and farmers leader Charan Singh. | Photo: PTI

Farmer leaders have appealed to those participating in the Republic Day tractor march to carry enough ration for 24 hours and ensure the rally remains peaceful. No one should carry any weapon or drink alcohol. Banners wih inciting messages are not allowed, one farmer leader said, while others asserted that the tractor parade will remain peaceful and will not affect the official Republic Day parade in any way. A war room has been set up at each protest site to ensure effective coordination. Another farmer leader said around 2,500 volunteers have been deployed to ensure that the parade remains peaceful.

Routes of the rally

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Haryana farmers welcome farmers of Punjab moving towards Delhi to take part in their Jan 26 tractor rally, at Shambu Punjab-Haryana border near Patiala. (PTI P

The tractor parade will start from the Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points of Delhi, but the final details of routes are yet to be released, said Kohar, a senior member of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of the agitating unions. A farmer leader told PTI that “around 100,000 tractor-trolleys from across the country will participate” in what is now being termed as Kisan Gantantra Parade. A member of the SKM said the parade will cover over 100 km. There will 40 members, including doctors, security personnel and social media managers, in each of these rooms, he added. "Everyone has to return to the starting point after the parade," one of the leaders said, indicating the two-month-long protest won’t be over after the tractor rally. Routes of the rally will be decided by the police forces of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana and details will be released by the SKM after a final decision. Meanwhile, the All India Kisan Sabha's (AIKS) Maharashtra unit said some 15,000 farmers had set out for Mumbai from Nashik on Saturday. After a near 170-km march, part of which was done on foot by many farmers, they started converging at Azad Maidan, the protest venue in south Mumbai.

Things you will see in the parade

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Tractors lined up on the KMP expressway as farmers gear up for their Jan 26 tractor rally in Delhi. (PTI Photo)

The Republic Day tractor parade by agitating farmers will feature a number of tableaus from across states depicting village life, the protest against the Centre's contentious farm laws, and hailing their courage, according to organisers. A farmer leader told PTI that directions were issued to all organisations participating in the protest to prepare tableaus for the parade. "Around 100,000 tractor-trolleys from across the country will participate in the parade. About 30 per cent of these will have tableaus on different themes, including the history of the farmers' movement in India, the role of women farmers and farming practices followed in different states," he said. A few children from Maharashtra's Vidarbha region have also planned a tableau on farmer suicides.

Farmer's demand

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Tractors lined up on the KMP expressway as farmers gear up for their Jan 26 tractor rally in Delhi. (PTI Photo)

Farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the National Capital for over two months in protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial farm laws, which they say will hurt their livelihood and help big companies. To up the ante, farmers wanted to drive tractors to the centre of New Delhi on Republic Day. Enacted in September last year, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major agricultural reforms that will remove middlemen and allow the cultivator to sell his produce anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers are apprehensive that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of minimum support price and do away with the 'mandi' (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. Since November 28 last year, farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the laws at several Delhi border points, including Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, and demanding the legislations be repealed.

Safety concerns

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Farmers display placards during their ongoing protest against new farm law, at Ghazipur border in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

The Delhi Police said Tuesday's tractor rally in the national Capital, which has been allowed to start after the Republic Day celebrations conclude, will be conducted amid tight security. Delhi police on Sunday revealed that over 300 Twitter handles were created from Pakistan from January 13 to 18 to disturb the farmers' tractor rally only by misleading people. "Through intelligence and various other agencies, we have continuously been getting inputs regarding the threat to create disturbance in the tractor rally. Three hundred and eight Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to create confusion," Dependra Pathak, Special CP, Delhi Police said during a press conference. According to the sources in the Delhi Police, these handles were designed to create panic by giving false information. They said the Delhi police Cyber team is keeping strict checks on social media to track miscreants trying to create panic.

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