Delhi Police gives nod to farmers' Republic Day tractor rally, says march must start only after parade

Thousands of farmers are set to participate in the 100-kilometre rally which will be conducted on Delhi's Outer Ring Road

FP Staff January 24, 2021 19:12:41 IST
Delhi Police gives nod to farmers' Republic Day tractor rally, says march must start only after parade

Farmers at Singhu border in New Delhi. PTI

The Delhi Police on Sunday granted permission for protesting farmers to hold the 'kisan tractor rally' in Delhi on Republic Day, according to several media reports. Reports quoted the police as saying that the tractor rally will begin after the traditional Republic Day parade ends.

NDTV reported that the approval was given after the Delhi Police held two rounds of meetings on Sunday. Thousands of farmers are set to participate in the 100-kilometre rally which will be conducted on Delhi's Outer Ring Road.

"Protesting farmers can enter Delhi but can't disturb the Republic Day parade. They can enter Delhi for few kilometers and then exit at designation spots," the police said, as per NDTV.

"The route has been fixed in such a way that it can be protected. The number of the tractors is not yet decided. The tractor rally will start after Republic Day programme ends — around 11.30 am." the report quoted the police as saying.

Additionally, Hindustan Times quoted Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav as saying, "Today there was a short meeting with officers of Delhi Police. We have got formal permission from police for the tractor rally. As I told earlier, 'Kisan Gantantra Parade' will be held on 26 January in a peaceful manner."

Earlier on Sunday, police officials held a meeting to discuss whether or not to grant the permission for the rally and what conditions farmers must adhere to if if permission is granted.

The Delhi Police's statement came a day after farmer leaders claimed that they had received permission for the rally. However, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava was on Saturday quoted by reports as saying, "Farmers have not given us any route in writing. We will let you know once we receive a route in written."

Meanwhile, The Indian Express reported that the police on Sunday "proposed four routes from Ghazipur, Singhu, Chilla, and Tikri borders for the farmers’ tractor rally".

Meanwhile, News18 quoted sources as saying that the police will impose several conditions on the rally.

Over 20,000 farmers from states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand will be joining the 100-kilometre rally, which is set to be held on Delhi's busy Outer Ring Road.

'Onus to keep rally peaceful on farmers'

The News18 report said that the Delhi Police is considering several potential routes for the rally.

"Routes will be like dedicated loops. There will be multiple routes for Farmers’ tractor rally. Farmers leaders will have to agree that they will follow them strictly," the report quoted police sources as saying.

The Delhi Police will also instruct farmers leaders to be "responsible for the peaceful movement" of the rally and ensure that "no anti-national slogans or posters are allowed".

"The farmers will be escorted by Delhi police and leaders will be responsible for the peaceful movement. Traffic spillover is expected in Delhi-NCR during the rally hours," they said.

Farmers claim Delhi Police granted permission for rally

On Saturday, farmer leaders told reporters that the police had granted permission for the rally.

Farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar stated that the Delhi Police has given permission to the farmers' tractor parade on 26 January, after attending a meeting between the unions and senior police officers.

The tractor parade will start from the Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points of Delhi, but the final details of routes are yet to be finalised, said Kohar, who is a senior member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha.

Farmer leaders said that five routes have been decided in-principle and farmers will cover 100 kilometres with tractors on every route, and added that 70 to 78 percent of the routes will culminate inside Delhi while the remaining will be outside the National Capital.

PTI quoted sources as saying that one possible route for the tractor parade from Singhu border will be to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar and it will pass through the Kanjhawala and Bawana areas and then return to the protest site.

Farmers camping at the Tikri border point will start their tractor parade from the protest site and cover areas like Nangloi, Najafgarh, Badli, and Kundli-Manesar Palwal (KMP) Expressway, they said.

For farmers camping at the Ghazipur border point, their tractor parade will cover areas like Apsra border-Ghaziabad-Duhai and return to Ghazipur, the report said.

However, tractor parade routes for farmers camping at Shahjahanpur and Palwal have not been decided yet, PTI reported.

Farmer leader Darshan Pal said that "barricades set up at Delhi borders will be removed on 26 January and farmers will take out tractor parade after entering the National Capital".

"We have almost finalised fives routes," Pal, who is also a member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, said.

Another farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said that as thousands of farmers will participate in the parade, there will be no single route as it is not possible to manage huge crowds on a particular route.

Earlier, there have been three rounds of meetings between the unions and police officers from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, but it was the fourth round of talks over the tractor parade on Friday where both sides reached an agreement.

While police tried to convince farmer leaders to hold their tractor parade outside the National Capital, they were adamant on holding the proposed rally on Delhi's busy Outer Ring Road.

BKU claims 25,000 tractors to participate in 'kisan parade'

Around 25,000 tractors from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will participate in the 'kisan parade' in Delhi on 26 January, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said on Saturday.

"Farmers moving towards Uttar Pradesh Gate from the two states on their tractor trolleys were intercepted by police in different districts but farmers will arrive here at every cost," he said.

"Around 25,000 tractors would arrive here and a tractor rally would be brought out on Republic Day. Apart from the districts of western Uttar Pradesh, farmers would take out rallies in every district," Tikait said in a statement.

"No political person will be allowed to participate," the BKU national spokesperson said.

District administrations are sending notices to farmers and mounting pressure on them not to participate in the rallies citing COVID-19 norms and section 144 of the CrPC, he claimed.

"Routes of the rally will be decided by the police of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana and details will be released by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha after a final decision," Tikait added.

With inputs from agencies

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