A day before their mega tractor rally in the national capital, farmer leaders said Monday that they will march on foot to the Parliament on February 1, the day the Union budget will be presented.
Dr Darshan Pal, union leader of Kirti Kisan Union, who has been part of the meetings with the Centre, said during a press conference Monday: “On February 1, farmers will march towards the Parliament on foot, against the laws.”
Farmer leaders said a detailed programme will be declared in a day or two, but the march will be peaceful. The leaders also said that Tuesday’s tractor march will be unique as ordinary people will be part of Republic Day celebrations.
“After the rally is over, farmers have been asked not to return to their villages, but rather to stay on at the borders,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Balbir Singh Rajewal.
Meanwhile, the Loni border saw tension between protesters and police as the former tried to enter the capital through an unapproved route. Additional DCP (Shahdara district) Sanjay Sain said around 250 farmers along with tractors came via Apsara border and tried to march into Delhi. “We convinced them to follow their decided route and dropped them at Ghazipur flyover. Other farmers are also coming and we are requesting them to follow the route.”
A day before the mega rally, the Delhi Police gave a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the tractor rally, with 37 conditions, including that the organisers should keep the limit of gathering of participants in the rally to 5,000 persons along with 5,000 tractors, and that non-compliance of terms and conditions many entail termination/cancellation/withdrawal of the NOC.
Members of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, however, said they are expecting close to 2 lakh tractors to be part of the procession tomorrow.
“The parade will be on the route fixed with police. There is no limit of vehicles nor time for this march. The parade will return to its original place via the fixed route,” said Dr Darshan Pal.
A senior police officer said intelligence inputs suggest that more than 27,000 tractors are at the borders, and the number will go up to 40,000.
The NOC, issued by ACP Ritambra Prakash, states, “This permission is limited to holding of tractor rally on the permitted routes only and should not be construed as permission for holding any dharna, demonstrations or sit-in-protest en route the rally. The organisers should keep the limit of gathering of participants in rally to 5,000 persons along with 5,000 tractors. The organisers should ensure the deployment of 2,500 volunteers on prescribed routes. The list of such volunteers with contact details should be provided to police in advance. The rally should be held within the prescribed time from 12 pm to 5 pm on January 26 and organisers should ensure that there is no obstruction to the other road users.”
The NOC further states, “The organisers should ensure that two-third of the carriageway is kept free for normal traffic movement… The organisers should also ensure that no loudspeaker or public address system is used on the route without specific permission from the competent authority of the district concerned… They should not indulge in any acrobatics, display of martial arts or stunt driving.”
The social media cell of Delhi Police’s intelligence unit is also working round the clock to check any fake or inflammatory news that may spread about the parade. Claimed a senior officer: “Around 1,100 Twitter accounts have been made in the last 25 days from Pakistan with a view to disrupt the tractor march. Our team is coordinating with farmer leaders and we have asked them to curb any rumours on their live stream.”