Lucknow: Farmers unions across western Uttar Pradesh are conducting tractor rallies in villages to drum up support for their planned tractor parade in Delhi on the occasion of Republic Day. While the Uttar Pradesh police has reportedly denied permission for their march, the farmers said that they will hold the rally come what may.
A farmer leader associated with the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) from the village of Mawana in Meerut district said that people – including the youth – in every village of western UP were preparing to participate in the tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. Senior farmers leaders are campaigning in villages to garner support for the parade and door-to-door meetings are being held by young farmers as well.
“The UP police has said that the tractor parade on Republic Day cannot be conducted on Delhi's Outer Ring Road due to security reasons. We’re clear that we’ll only conduct the tractor parade there, no matter what,” BKU leader Naresh Chaudhary told NewsClick. He added that farmer leaders met top officials of the Uttar Pradesh on several occasions to discuss their scheduled tractor rally on January 26 in protests against the three Farm Laws. He said the police sought details about the route they intended to take and the number of that protesters expected. However, the officers denied permission, saying that it would cause inconvenience to commuters.
When asked what their next course of action would be Chaudhary said: “This is not the first time that the UP police is intimidating or harassing farmers from Uttar Pradesh. They stopped farmers at many places and from joining protests at the UP-Delhi border. Since the beginning, the IAS and IPS officers have been touring all the 75 districts of the state to keep an eye on farmers who may try to be part of the farmers’ movement. Despite all this surveillance, farmers assembled at different borders in large numbers, including Ghazipur, which has become the epicentre of the farmers’ movement,” he added, warning the police of “repercussions” if they were stopped on January 26.
Echoing similar sentiments, Shyam Singh Chahar, a farmer leader from Agra said: “Farmers from Agra district and its adjacent areas will start moving to Delhi’s borders in small groups via different routes between January 23 and 26 no matter if the police prevents us from doing so. This is the time to show our strength to the Centre as it has become deaf, dumb and blind in arrogance,” Chahar told NewsClick.
While speaking about the rally, Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of the BKU, said: “Who will stop the tractor march? The police will salute the tractor with the tricolour flag. The farmers have every right to celebrate Republic Day as a politician does. Republic Day is not the legacy of someone's father. India will witness the world’s largest ever parade on that day,” said Tikat.
When asked how the farmers would evade the police, Tikait said that they would be coming in small groups from January 23 and that it wouldn’t be a problem. Tikait also said that the women camping at the Ghazipur border will lead the tractor march.
Meanwhile, farmers from Uttar Pradesh have conducted a rehearsal of the tractor march in most villages in anticipation of the proposed tractor parade on January 26.
The farmer unions have said they planned to hold their parade on the periphery of the national capital and would not disrupt the official Republic Day event, including the annual parade in Delhi.