As the farmers camping at the borders of Delhi for 60 days entered the national capital through a historic tractor parade on Republic Day, the entire country too witnessed solidarity protests and rallies by farmers and workers unions, students and women’s organisations.
Lakhs of people across the country hit the roads, extending support to the ongoing protest against the three contentious farm laws and demanding a legal guarantee for minimum support price. In some states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, the farmers’ rallies faced opposition from the police, with seven being detained in Guajarat’s Bhavnagar.
In other places, including Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, protest rallies and parades were carried out which witnessed united participation from various sections of the society. NewsClick presents a report from the various solidarity protests across the country.
Gujarat Farmers Protest in Support of Tractor Parade, 7 Detained in Bhavnagar
Damayantee Dhar/Bhavnagar: Seven farmers of Bhavnagar were detained after about 200 farmers from various talukas in Bhavnagar gathered to protest against the farm laws and as a mark of support for the ongoing protest by farmers in Delhi.
“Since we could not travel to Delhi, we had sought permission for a tractor rally in the district and had arranged for the same but were denied permission by district authorities. So, we decided to gather near a village about 5-6 kms from Bhavnagar city and march to the Collector’s office. But the police were already waiting for us there and detained the leaders and dispersed the rest of the farmers,” Vasudevsinh Gohil, a farmer from Ghogha taluka, Bhavnagar who was detained, told NewsClick.
Farmer leaders detained by Gujarat Police. Photo Credit: Damayantee Dhar
“There were about 50 police personnel with multiple motorcycles and two cars. The leaders were identified and were detained in Vartej Police Station in Bhavnagar from 10 am to 5 pm,” said Gohil after he was released from the police station.
Notably, farmers from Ghogha taluka of Bhavnagar have been fighting against lignite mining and land acquisition for a thermal power plant for the past two years. Further, farmers of Mahuva and Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar have been fighting against land acquisition for mining of limestone by Ultra Tech Cement owned by Adita Birla group. In the course of their protest in the last two years, farmers of the district have faced lathicharge and tear gas shells, and several have cases slapped against them. They have also challenged the land acquisition for both lignite mining and limestone mining in Court.
Protest meeting at Bhavnagar on January 25.
Late in the night of January 25, farmers of the district held a meeting to discuss the three farm laws among the local farmers, addressed by Kanubhai Kalsariya, a former BJP MP turned farmers’ rights activist.
“Many farmers in Gujarat are not aware of the details of the three farm laws. We have been holding meetings to discuss the laws with the farmers. Our next meeting is in Rajkot on January 27 where farmer’s leaders and activists will speak to the farmers,” said Palbhai Ambaliya, a leader of Gujarat Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation of 23 farmers bodies in the state.
Farmers prepare for meeting at Rajkot on January 27.
“We are expecting the participation about 1,500 to 2,000 farmers from all over the state,” he added.
MP Farmers Take Out Tractor Rallies in 25 Districts, Peace Reigns Throughout
Kashif Kakvi/Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh witnessed peaceful tractor rallies on Tuesday by farmers in around 25 districts, including state capital Bhopal and Indore, despite lacking the government’s nod in many districts.
Sloganeering “Jai jawan, jai kisan (Hail Soldiers, Hail Farmers)”and “Kisan Ekta Zindabad (Farmers’ Unity Long Live)”, massive tractor rallies were carried out in many districts of the state such as Seoni, Raisen, Rewa, Dhar, Satna, Harda, Barwani, Hoshangabad, Dewas, Bhopal, Indore, Shahdol, Shivpuri and others.
After hoisting tricolour at Krishi Upaj Mandis to mark the 72nd Republic Day, the farmers carried out around 20 long tractor rallies in their respective districts against the three farm laws. In Indore, police stopped the farmers’ convoy near Regal Trisection of the city for carrying out a rally without permission. After hours of sloganeering, the protesters paid homage at the B R Ambedkar statue and left the place peacefully with a promise to further intensify the protest against the farm laws.
Many regional and national farmers’ organisations carried out rallies under the banners of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). Additionally, trade unions affiliated to the Congress and Communist party of India (Marxist) also took part in protest in several places, including Indore.
“It was a peaceful protest and we have registered our disappointment toward the law and strengthened the hands of AIKSCC and SKM,” said Ramswarup Mantri, AIKSCC in-charge of Malwa Nimar region.
The convenor of Jagrut Kisan Sangathan, Irfan Jaffri said, “Under the banner of AIKSCC, our organisation has successfully organised four rallies in Bhopal and neighbouring Raisen district.”
On being asked about the violence in Delhi, Jaswinder Singh, CPI(M) leader, claimed that the violence was instigated by other political parties to show the farmers’ protest in a bad light, but “the AIKSCC has distanced itself from such incidents and the protest will continue in the state.”
When contacted, DIG Intelligence, Dr Ashish said, “No incidents or complaints have been reported in Madhya Pradesh. The farmers carried out a peaceful rally.”
Opposition to Farm Laws Resounds Through Telugu States
Prudhviraj Rupavath/Hyderabad: Tens of thousands of farmers joined the tractor parades and rallies organised across all districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Farmers’ organisations are saying that the opposition to the farm laws has echoed from all corners of the Telugu states.
"Tractor parades and vehicle rallies were held across all the 33 districts of Telangana. The support to the farmers’ movement in the state has increased compared to the December 8 Bharat Bandh," said T Sagar, general secretary of Telangana Rythu Sangham.
In Telangana’s erstwhile districts of Khammam, Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda, parades were held covering Collectorates and agriculture markets. In Hyderabad, after the police denied permission, the farmers’ organisations approached the High Court and got permission to hold a rally from LB ;Nagar to Uppal Ring road.
Rally in support of farmers in Hyderabad. Photo credit: Prudhviraj Rupavath
Trade unions, opposition parties including Congress and left parties, students’ organisations, dalit and civil society organisations participated in the protest marches across both Telugu States.
Rythu Kavatulu (farmers parades) were also held in several centres in rural Andhra Pradesh. Protest rallies took place in Amalapuram, Addanki, Araku, Mangalagiri, Srikakulam, Anantapur and other regions as well.
Multiple tractor parades and rallies were held in Kurnool, Kadapa, Chittoor and Anantapur districts in Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.
"Thousands of farmers have joined today's parades and rallies strengthening their united opposition against the farm laws. The central government must understand the fears and problems of the farming communities and repeal the farm laws," said Y Kesav Rao, president of Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham. He added that thousands of farmers not associated with unions or political parties have voluntarily joined the rallies.
In Piler town of Chittoor district, Bhu Hakkula Porata Samithi and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions organised the tractor parade. Taking inspiration from the protesting farmers in Delhi, Piler farmers said they will indefinitely protest against the “forceful acquisition of agricultural lands” by the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC).
"The new farm laws are nothing less than capital punishment for farmers. If the government wants to do some good for the farmers, why is it not implementing the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission?," questioned V Srinivasulu, AIKSCC leader, while addressing a public gathering after the parade in Kurnool.
Farmers’ Parades Organised at Every Panchayat and Municipal Centre in Kerala
Shilpa Shaji/ Kerala: Following the Republic Day program on January 26, Kerala farmers under the banner of Kerala Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi organised parades at every panchayat and municipal centre across the state around 3 PM. Students, youth, workers and women among others joined the farmers in these parades.
The CITU, as part of its all India call, took out solidarity marches across the state. Students organisations like Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Federation (AISF) who have held series of protests and marches in support of the struggling farmers also joined the Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi's parade.
CITU rally in Thiruvananthapuram in solidarity with protesting farmers.
Youth organisations like Democratic Youth Federation of India and All India Youth Federation, women's organisations and others also participated in the farmers' parade.
Meanwhile, the 72-hour-long Satyagraha launched by the farmers in front of the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram since January 23 concluded on the evening of January 25.
UP Farmers Organise Tractor Rallies and Dharnas, Prominent Farmer Leaders Under House Arrest
Abdul Alim Jafri/Lucknow: Tractor marches and dharnas were organised across Uttar Pradesh on January 26 in solidarity with the protesting farmers and demanding the repeal of three farm laws, which saw the participation of thousands of farmers, including opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) and left parties' leaders and workers.
In the state capital of Lucknow, a tractor march was taken out in Bakshi Ka Talab area, led by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) UP and Bhartiya Kisan Union along with a few left parties' leaders and supporters.
The state general secretary of AIKS, Mukut Singh, told NewsClick said that in addition to the rallies and dharnas, they are also mobilising farmers for a human chain against the farm laws. Farmers in rural areas of Sonbhadra and Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Barabanki, Banda Ballia, etc. have hit the roads in the support of protesting farmers on the border, Singh said
Meanwhile, at least 100 farmers from Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri and Barabanki associated with multiple farmers' union were stopped at Lucknow-Delhi highway when they were moving towards Delhi to join the tractor parade in the national capital. Further, several prominent farmers' leaders were reportedly put under house arrest across the state since the evening of January 25 to prevent them from joining the tractor parade, farmers from the region alleged.
Not only that, several Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) workers who had planned to gherao UP CM Yogi Adityanath were not allowed to enter Noida. “Our supporters were set to reach Noida but were stopped across UP in districts like Mathura, Barabanki, Agra and Bulandshahr. In Lucknow, the district president was stopped and his tractor was seized. At many places, tractors have been denied diesel at fuel pumps,” BKU- Bhanu president Yogesh Pratap Singh told NewsClick.
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of BKU, said, "The tractor rallies by farmers today is the anger of farmers who have been camping at the border for more than 50 days. If still the government does not accept our demands, the movement will intensify with each passing day.”
In Baghpat, the police lathi-charged farmers’ union members who were moving towards Delhi on the morning of January 26. However, the protesting farmers were successful in overcoming the police barricades at Delhi-Saharanpur.
At the Ghazipur border, the police attacked the protesters with tear gas shells after groups of farmers allegedly broke barricades and check posts and entered the national capital before the permitted timing.
Heavy deployments of police personnel were made in Lucknow and adjacent areas where there were high chances of farmers' protest. CCTV cameras were also deployed on the main route taken by farmers to reach Delhi for joining the tractor parade.
Massive Turnout at Tractor Rallies Across Tamil Nadu; Youth, Trade Unionists Join In
Neelambaran A/ Chennai: Tamil Nadu saw massive protests against the three farm laws with two-wheeler and tractor rallies of farmers parallel to the Republic Day parade. There was massive participation from farmers organisations, trade unions, students and youth organisations. Though the farmers had initially planned to hold their rallies in the evening, the attacks on the protesting farmers in Delhi resulted in spontaneous protests and rallies across the state.
The attempts of the state government and police to stop the rallies did not materialise as the farmers were in no mood to relent.
The farmers held rallies in all the district capitals demanding the withdrawal of the farm laws and proposed amendments to the Electricity Act. The state government, led by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), tried to prevent the protests by issuing notices to the tractor owners, which went in vain.
The farmers breached police barricades in many places to proceed with their protest march, ably supported by trade, youth and student organisations. A huge number of two-wheelers were part of the rallies, giving no scope for the police to stop them. It also saw a significant participation from the youth members the Democratic Youth Federation of India and Students Federation of India. Impressive turn outs were reported from Dindigul, Coimbatore, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Mayiladuthurai, Trichy, Cuddalore and Salem.
The rallies were attended by the members of farmers organisations and political parties including the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), CPI(M), CPI, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, and Congress and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK). The farmers’ wing of the DMK also joined the rallies.
P Shanmugam, state general secretary of the AIKS. said, “We strongly condemn the police action against the protesting farmers across the country.”
M K Stalin, president of the DMK, in a tweet held the Union government’s “insensitive attitude” responsible for the violence in Delhi during the protest.
The Left parties held solidarity marches in different parts of the state and took a pledge to protect the constitution of the nation and the rights of the workers and farmers.