More than 600 farmers from Gujarat, the Prime Minister’s home state, reached the Jaipur Delhi border with 100 tractors to participate in the tractor parade on Republic Day called by protesting farmers near Delhi.
The farmers, including about 150 women farmers, left their home three days ago to avoid being detained by the Gujarat Police.
“We are more than 600 hundred people who left from Gujarat in the past three days. We left individually and met at Mount Abu Road in Rajasthan to avoid being detained or put under house arrest,” said Dev Desai, a Gujarat-based activist who is travelling with the farmers.
“This time farmers have been joined by tribals and Muslims as well,” added Dev Desai.
“There are about 250 women who have travelled to participate in the protest,” Bhavna Desai, a farmer from Ganeshpura village, Mehsana district in North Gujarat told NewsClick.
“The women who decided to participate in the protest tomorrow are either farmers themselves or belong to an agrarian family that depends on farming for livelihood. We understood that the farm laws will do us no good,” shares Bhavna Desai.
Another farmers’ organisation of Gujarat, Gujarat Khedut Samaj, held a meeting in Surat on January 24 after the High Court gave permission. Earlier, the organisation had sought permission for the same meeting to be held on January 4 or 5 but was denied permission by Surat Police on grounds of the pandemic. Subsequently, the organisation, represented by Advocate Anand Yagnik, had challenged the decision in the court.
“About 200 farmers representing various districts had participated in the meeting. We discussed the three farm laws at length as we think every farmer needs to be aware of the laws and role of the government,” said Jayesh Patel, president of Gujarat Khedut Samaj.
“Khedut Samaj, under the umbrella organisation of Gujarat Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, will decide on the course of action and mode of protest on R-Day,” he added.
In December last year, about 150 farmers of Gujarat had reached the site of protest near Delhi despite crackdown by Gujarat Police. Some farmers had to disguise themselves to avoid the police.
The Director General of Police, Gujarat, had barred any protest or agitation in the state, participating or posting about it in any social media could end up in arrest. Adding to that, Gujarat Police had put more than 16 farmers rights activist and leaders under house arrest before they could make a move to participate in the protest called on December 8 last year.
Subsequently, Gujarat Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, the umbrella body of 23 farmers’ rights organisation, were denied permission to hold a “Khedut Sansad” on December 11 at Gandhinagar. Khedut Sansad or a meeting of farmers from across the state, was expecting participation of more than 2,000 farmers, claimed the farmers’ leaders.