Farmers, Delhi Police gear up for Republic Day tractor rally; unions announce Parliament march on 1 Feb
The farmers' tractor march is likely to begin at 11.30 am on Republic Day and is expected to end after 10 to 12 hours. Some tractors will also pay tribute to all the farmers who died during the course of this agitation
All eyes are on Delhi and its borders as protesting farmers, Delhi Police and the Centre gear up for the 'Kisan Ganatantra Parade' in Delhi today's Republic Day tractor rally.
Thousands of farmers are set to enter the National Capital under heavy security, and the Delhi Police has issued traffic advisories for the routes that the tractors will navigate.
The tractor march is likely to begin at 11.30 am and is expected to end after 10 to 12 hours, a Jai kisan Andolan (Swaraj Abhiyaan) spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI. Some participants will pay tribute the farmers who died during the course of this agitation.
Farmers also announced a foot march to the Parliament on 1 February, when the annual Union Budget will be presented, to press for their demands including a repeal of the three new agriculture laws.
Farmers, preparing for the anticipated 26 January tractor rally, on Monday said that one of the major highlights of their parade on Tuesday will be the 'jhankis' (tableaux) that will be led by a trolley carrying the sacred text of the Sikhs Guru Granth Sahib.
Taking a cue from the farmer's tractor rally in Delhi, various farmers' associations in Karnataka have also announced a similar rally in Bengaluru on occasion of Republic Day.
"Our struggle will be peaceful. Our objective is limited to conveying our message to the government and the people of the state," Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar was quoted as saying by PTI. He also said that 500 to 1,000 tractors are likely to participate in the rally.
Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar addressed a rally of farmers who gathered at Mumbai's Azad Maidan to protest against the Centre's farm laws, and to show solidarity with farmers protesting at Delhi's borders for two months.
"The Centre may pass any law undermining the Constitution on the back of its majority, but once the common man and farmers rise, they will not keep quiet until the new farm acts and the ruling party are destroyed," Pawar said in this speech.
Farmers announce Parliament march on Budget day
The 'Kisan Gantantra Parade' to be held on Tuesday will move into Delhi from three border points: Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh Gate).
The farmer unions protesting for two months against the three new farm laws, said on Monday that their tractor parade will start only after the official Republic Day parade on Rajpath concludes.
They claimed around two lakh tractors are expected to participate in the parade in a show of strength and support.
Addressing a press conference at Sinhu border, senior union leader Darshan Pal announced the farmers will also organise a foot march to Parliament from different locations on the Union Budget day, a move being seen as a pressure tactic.
Pal, who is a member of the Krantikari Kisan Union, said the protesting farmers remain firm in their stand of repealing the three new farm laws and their agitation will continue till their demands are met.
"We will march towards Parliament on foot from different locations on the budget day on 1 February. As far as tomorrow's tractor rally is concerned, it will give the government an idea of our strength and they will know the agitation is not just limited to Haryana or Punjab but it is an agitation of the whole of the country," he said.
Every march or protest will be peaceful as the movement has been so far, he said.
"The farmers who have come for the tractor parade will not go back now and will join the protest. The agitation will continue till our demands met. Our stand remains the same," Pal told reporters, sharing the farmers' plans to intensify the protest.
Delhi Police issues asks commuters to avoid tractor rally's routes
Police, meanwhile, said thousands of security personnel have been already deployed at several border points to maintain law and order during the farmers' tractor parade on Tuesday.
Deependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), claimed on Sunday that over 300 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the tractor parade.
In a circular, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava directed all officers, jawans and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel, posted for the Republic Day Parade security arrangements to be prepared for an extended deployment to maintain law and order in the wake of the tractor parade.
The Delhi Traffic Police on Monday asked commuters to avoid routes where protesting farmers will conduct their tractor parade on Republic Day.
"The first rally will start from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, DTU, Shahabad Dairy, Barwala Village, Pooth Khurd Village, Kanjhawala T-Point, Kanjhawala Chowk, Kutubgarh, Auchandi Border and Kharkhoda Toll Plaza.
"The traffic going towards NH-44 and GT Karnal Road will be diverted from Singhu Shani Mandir, Ashok Farm/Janti Tall, Hamidpur, Sunderpur Majra, Zindopur Mukhmelpur, Kadipur, Kushak Colony, Mukarba Chowk and GTK Depot," Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Meenu Chowdhary said.
The second parade will start from Tikri Border and pass through Nangloi, Baprola Village and Najafgarh, excluding Phirni Road, Jharoda Border, Rohtak Bypass (Bahadurgarh) and Asoda Toll Plaza, Chowdhary said.
Police said the traffic will be diverted from different points.
Traffic will not be allowed to enter on the Rohtak road from Kirari mor and will be diverted towards Mangolpuri. It will also be diverted from Ghevra mor towards Khanjawala, they said.
The Ghazipur border parade will reach some parts of NH-24 from where it will take a right turn to Road Number 56, ISBT Anand Vihar, Apsara Border, Hapur Road, Bhopura, IMS College, Lal Kuan and Ghazipur Border, police said.
Farmer leaders appeal for peace ahead of rally
Farmer leaders have appealed to those participating in the tractor parade to carry enough ration for 24 hours and ensure that the rally parade remains peaceful.
"No one should carry any weapon or consume alcohol. Banners carrying inciting messages are not allowed," a farmer leader said.
The farmer leaders will be on the frontline in their cars. According to protesting unions, there is no cutoff time for the parade or limit on the number of vehicles. However, all vehicles will have to return to the originating place without stopping midway except for a valid reason, the farmer leaders said.
Hundreds of women farmers are also expected to drive tractors at 'Kisan Gantantra Parade' on Republic Day.
Social activist Zeba Khan was quoted by PTI as saying that women will be participating in the tractor rally shoulder-to-shoulder with the male farmers. Khan, who is among the women participating in the rally, claimed that at least 500 women will be in attendance on Tuesday.
Maharashtra governor faces flak for 'skipping' appointment with farmers
Around 15,000 farmers from all over Maharashtra participated in the first day of a protest at Mumbai's Azad Maidan on Monday.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari faced flak for allegedly skipping an appointment with a farmers delegation that was going to submit him a memorandum against the agri laws. However, Raj Bhavan denied this allegation.
Pawar, speaking at a rally in the Azad Maidan, also lashed out at the governor, saying Koshyari had time to meet Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut after the BMC last year demolished parts of her office here but has no time for farmers.
All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) president Ashok Dhawale accused Koshyari of running away to Goa and accused him of "insulting" the farmers and workers of Maharashtra.
Koshyari, who is also the Governor of Goa, left for the adjoining tourist state to address its Assembly whose five-day session began on Monday. A Raj Bhavan spokesperson in Mumbai said Koshyari is in Goa as per schedule, which was fixed much before the farmers protest in the metropolis.
The rally was also attended by Maharashtra Congress chief and state minister Balasaheb Thorat, AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah and other Left leaders.
Immediately after the rally, the farmers were to take out a march to the Raj Bhavan to submit the memorandum to the Governor. The agitators, however, were stopped by the police mid-way.
Ram Nath Kovind says Centre dedicated to farmers' welfare
President Ram Nath Kovind paying tribute to farmers, said every Indian is grateful to them for ensuring food security in our vast and populous country, and gave the assurance that the government is devoted to farmers' welfare.
"Every Indian salutes our farmers, who have made our vast and populous country self-reliant in food-grains and dairy products. Despite adversities of nature, numerous other challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers sustained the agricultural production," he said in his address on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day.
"A grateful nation is fully committed to the welfare of our farmers. Just as our hardworking farmers ensure food security for the country, the brave soldiers of the armed forces ensure security of our national boundaries amid severest conditions," Kovind said.
The comments by the president come against the backdrop of the ongoing agitation by farmers against three new farm laws. The president said the path to reforms in the initial stages may cause misapprehensions, but the government is devoted to farmers' welfare.
"Economic reforms have continued apace and have been supplemented by long-pending reforms in the areas of labour and agriculture through legislation. The path to reform at the initial stages may cause misapprehensions. However, it is beyond doubt that the government remains singularly devoted to farmers' welfare," he said.
Kovind said the country's farmers, soldiers and scientists deserve special appreciation and the entire nation is grateful to them.
"From space to the farms, from educational institutions to hospitals, the community of scientists has enriched our life and work. Our scientists have been working day and night for decoding the coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time.
With this accomplishment, our scientists have added a glorious chapter of contribution to the well-being of humanity.
"Our scientists, along with doctors, administrators and people from other walks of life, have made major contribution in containing the virus and keeping the fatality rate lower in our country, compared to that in developed countries. Thus, all our farmers, soldiers and scientists deserve special appreciation and a grateful nation greets them on this auspicious occasion of the Republic Day," he said.
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