Will hold R-Day tractor rally on Delhi's Outer Ring Road, insist farmers; no breakthrough in talks with police
The Delhi police sought to convince the farmer unions to hold their tractor rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway instead of the busy Outer Ring Road, but the farmers stuck to their demand
The second meeting between the Delhi Police and protesting farmers over the tractor rally planned on Republic Day ended with the farmers rejecting the police's suggestion of changing the rally's location and insisting that they be allowed to conduct it on the Outer Ring Road.
This, a day after union leaders, meeting officers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana police at Vigyan Bhawan to discuss the route and arrangements of the proposed rally on 26 January, rejected the suggestion of using the KMP Expressway for the rally.
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who has been actively involved in the 56-day-protest against the Centre's farm laws, said that the police suggested that farmer leaders should conduct the tractor rally outside the National Capital.
"We will do our parade peacefully inside Delhi. They wanted us to hold the tractor rally outside Delhi, which is not possible," Yadav.
The Outer Ring Road passes through several areas of the National Capital. These include Vikaspuri, Janakpuri, Uttam Nagar, Burari Peeragarhi, and Pitampura.
PTI quoted sources as saying that police officers sought to convince the farmer unions to hold their tractor rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway instead of the busy Outer Ring Road, but the farmers stuck to their demand.
A farmer leader, who attended the meeting with the police, said, "The government wants us to take out our rally outside Delhi, but we want to hold it inside Delhi. No decision was taken in today's meeting."
Thursday's meeting was held at the Mantram Resort near the Singhu border, which has emerged as one of the epicentres of the protests.
The meeting was coordinated by Joint Commissioner of Police (Northern Range) SS Yadav and was attended by Special Commissioner (Law and Order-Western Zone) Sanjay Singh, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) Dependra Pathak and other senior officers from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police.
The Supreme Court, hearing the Centre's plea seeking a direction to halt the tractor rally, on Wednesday refused to interfere in the matter. The Centre then withdrew its plea seeking an injunction against such a march on 26 January.
The apex court said that the issue of the tractor rally is in the executive domain. A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that police has the "authority" to deal with the issue of proposed tractor march in Delhi and it is not for the court to pass an order in the matter.
"We have told you that we will not issue any direction. It is a police matter. We will allow you to withdraw (the application). You are the authority and you have to deal with it. You have the powers to pass orders, you do it. It is not for the court to pass orders," said the bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.
Thousands of farmers from across the country have been protesting at several Delhi border points against the Centre's new agriculture laws for nearly two months. The unions representing the farmers have begun holding tractor rallies at villages in Punjab to mobilise people for the demonstration on Republic Day.
The farmers are vehemently opposing 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, 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 MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
With inputs from agencies
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