Ahead of talks with govt, farmers take out tractor march against farm laws
New Delhi: Ahead of talks with the government, thousands of farmers on Thursday took out tractor-march from protest sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders and Haryana’s Rewasan against the three agriculture laws amid heavy police deployment.
According to the protesting farm unions, this is just a “rehearsal” for their proposed January 26 tractor parade that will be moved into the national capital from different parts of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan said that farmers participated in the march with over 3,500 tractors and trolleys.
Ugrahan, whose union is one of the largest farmer organisations in Punjab, said that they will not accept anything less than the repeal of the three farm laws.
The eighth round of talks between protesting unions and the central government is scheduled to be held on Friday.
The last meeting remained inconclusive on Monday as farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of the three laws, while the government listed out various benefits of the new acts for the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
On Thursday, farmers started the tractor march around 11 am and moved towards Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway amid heavy deployment of Delhi Police personnel and their counterparts from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Perched on their tractors, protesting farmers moved slowly through the protest sites, with speakers on their vehicles belting out music keeping their spirits high. Other protestors lined the path providing fellow farmers with all kinds of supplies, including peanuts, fritters, tea, and newspapers.
At Ghazipur protest, the tractor march, led by senior BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, moved towards Palwal.
“In the coming days, we will intensify our agitation against the three farm laws. Around 2,500 tractors from Haryana have participated in today’s march.
“We want to warn that if the government doesn’t not accept our demands, farmers’ protest will get intensified further,” Abhimanyu Kohar, a senior member of Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, told PTI.
The tractor march started from four different points — Singhu to Tikri Border, Tikri to Kundli, Ghazipur to Palwal and Rewasan to Palwal.
“The government has been hosting meeting after meeting. They know what we want. We want the laws to be repealed, but all we get are futile talks. With this rally, we want to give them a glimpse of what we can do, and what we will do on January 26.
“Today, the rally is happening on the periphery of Delhi, but when our farmer leaders decide that we need to enter the capital, we will do that,” Harjinder Singh, a participant of tractor march from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, said.
Braving severe cold and sporadic rains, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and some other parts of the country have been camping at several Delhi border points for over 40 days, demanding repeal of the farm laws, a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops and other two issues.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.