Union Leaders Reject Suggestion of Alternative Route for Farmers’ Tractor Rally on Republic Day

Farmer unions opposing the Centre’s new agri laws on Wednesday rejected a suggestion by police officers to hold their proposed January 26 tractor rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway instead of Delhi’s busy Outer Ring Road, sources said. Union leaders and officers of the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana police forces had met at the Vigyan Bhawan here to discuss the route and arrangements of the proposed rally on Republic Day.

The sources said that the farmer leaders were suggested by the police officers to take out their rally on the KundliManesarPalwal (KMP) Expressway, but they did not agree. The Outer Ring Road passes through several areas of Delhi such as Vikaspuri, Janakpuri, Uttam Nagar, Burari Peeragarhi and Pitampura.

There might be another round of talks with the police officers on Thursday, a farmer leader, who attended the meeting, said. Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at several Delhi border points against the laws for the last 56 days and unions representing them have begun holding tractor rallies at villages in Punjab to mobilise people for the demonstration on Republic Day.

During the meeting, “we discussed several points with police officers on our tractor rally on January 26”, a senior farmer leader said. Joint Commissioner of Police, (Northern Range), S S Yadav coordinated the meeting from the Delhi Police, according to the sources.

Police officials from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were also present at the meeting, they said. The meeting comes on a day the Centre withdrew its plea seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally on January 26 after the Supreme Court said “it is a police matter”.

The police have the “authority” to deal with the issue pertaining to the proposed tractor march in Delhi on Republic Day, said a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian. Leaders of all 40 farm unions, which are taking part in the protest, also met three Union ministers for the 10th round of talks this afternoon in an effort to end the impasse over the agri laws.

Farmer unions agitating against the laws have said their preparations are in full gear and authorities should facilitate the “peaceful march”, instead of stopping it. The protests and the proposed tractor rally are against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed their 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.

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