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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Talks stuck, tractor rally Jan 7: R-Day rehearsal, say farmers

Last week, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi to press their demands, had said that if their demands are not met by January 26, farmers would lead a “tractor parade” into Delhi.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh | Updated: January 6, 2021 8:38:36 pm
Tractor march from Rewari to Shahjahanpur on Sunday morning amid a downpour.

A DAY after their talks with the Centre remained inconclusive, farmer unions protesting against the new agriculture laws said they would hold a “tractor march” on the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways on January 7, as a “rehearsal” for January 26. The next round of talks with the Centre is scheduled to be held on January 8.

Last week, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi to press their demands, had said that if their demands are not met by January 26, farmers would lead a “tractor parade” into Delhi.

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border, where farmers have been camping since November 26, Yogendra Yadav, political activist and a member of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, said: “The seventh round of talks in seven months with the government failed as they have refused to repeal the three farm laws. We will go ahead with the plan to take out a tractor march on the KMP Expressway on January 7”.

He said the tractors would leave from the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders, and Rewasan in Haryana, for the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, and meet midway. “This may be seen as a rehearsal of what will happen on January 26,” he said.

Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Bains said that the tractor march was scheduled for Wednesday but it has been postponed to Thursday keeping in view continuous rains.

Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava also confirmed that the tractor march has been postponed for a day. The DGP told The Indian Express that they were yet to take a call whether to permit the tractor march on KMP Expressway or not.

“Our talks with the leaders of farmer unions are on. After that we will take a call on the issue of permission,” he added.
Quoting the information received from farmer leaders, a senior police officer said, “The farmers have dropped the plan of a parikrama (circumambulation) on the KMP Expressway too in which they had earlier planned to cover the entire stretch of 270 km on the peripheral expressway.”

He added: “As per the new plan, now 1,000 tractors will move to Tikri border from Kundli border on the KMP expressway. In the same way, 1,000 tractors will get on the expressway at Kundli border to move to Tikri border. At the toll plaza on the expressway, they will take U-turns to return to their original places. Similar programme will take place from Rewasan village in Mewat district where a road connects the KMP. Here 200-250 tractors will get on the KMP expressway to go up to Mathura road in Palwal district to return from there. In the same way, around 200 tractors will move to Rewasan village from Palwal and will return from there.”

A farmer leader from Haryana, Suresh Koth, said, “The tractors will move to KMP Expressway as part of rehearsal for our tractor parade scheduled for January 26.”

Farmer leaders have advised farmers in distant areas of Haryana to hold tractor marches in their respective areas, but still there are indications that the farmers will move to the national capital from many areas of the state. A khap leader from Jind, Azad Singh Palwa said the farmers will start moving to Delhi from the villages early morning.

“It’s a 4-5 hour run for the tractors to reach Delhi from villages of Jind. So, we have suggested that they should move to Delhi early in the morning,” he added.

The leaders of farm outfits have indicated they are not going to leave Delhi borders “empty handed” stating “this is a question of their survival”.

“Instead of committing suicide at homes after corporates grab our land, we would prefer to struggle. We have already asked the government to shoot us or let us live by repealing anti-farmer laws,” said Suresh Koth.

Farmers sit at the back of their tractor trolley as they continue to block a highway at the Delhi- Haryana border at the outskirts of New Delhi. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

“It depends on the government how long they want the stir to continue. But we have only a single agenda — get the three farm laws repealed,” added Koth, who is the president of a farm outfit Akhil Bhartiya Sanghrash Samiti.

Farmers plan awareness drive

“From tomorrow, we shall begin the fortnight-long Desh Jagran Abhiyan,” said Yadav.

Tractor rallies will be held across the country to spread awareness about the farmers’ demands, he said, adding: “On January 9, we shall remember Sir Chhotu Ram on his death anniversary, as he was behind the APMC mandi we are trying to save.”

In Haryana, farmer unions will begin an awareness drive from January 10, in which they will go to the villages and appeal to residents to participate in the tractor parade on January 26.

“We will appeal to every family to send one or more tractors and a woman member for the January 26 rally,” said Joginder Ghasidar, a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union from Haryana.

“The government must agree to the repeal of the three farm laws and the electricity Act. We will not agree to anything less than that,” said Raja Ram, general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha. “Despite the fact that the country faces rampant hunger and food insecurity and there were more than 4 lakh farmer suicides, the government says the MSP is above the market price and surplus grain is an issue. This government does not care about the BPL families,” he said.

Union ministers and representatives of farmers unions failed to break the impasse against the three farm laws Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various Delhi borders for over a month against the three laws.

Protests at toll plazas continue amid rain

Undeterred in the face of severe cold and rains, the protesting farmers kept sitting at toll plazas Tuesday to raise their voice against the controversial farm laws. Senior farmer leaders including Koth and Gurnam Singh Chaduni have planned visiting the toll plazas from Wednesday to energise the farmers sitting on dharnas there. Meanwhile, a senior police officer said the Haryana Police are keeping an eye on the developments related to the farmers’ agitation.

Farmers in Haryana are now preparing for the long haul too. As per plans, farmers will keep moving to Delhi borders in tractor-trolleys apart from planning a big movement of farmers to the national capital after every few days. As part of one such plan, the farmers will move to Delhi borders from Sirsa on January 15, said a farmer leader from Fatehabad, Mandeep Nathwan. In a similar move, thousands of farmers had moved to Delhi borders from Punjab a few days back.

BKU chief visits Jammu

To expand the agitation further, Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Gurnam Singh Chaduni went to Jammu to meet local farmer leaders Tuesday. Earlier, Chaduni had gone to Patna to hold deliberations with the farmer leaders of Bihar.

After meeting Chaduni, J-K Zamindar Forum president Abdul Hameed Malik told The Indian Express that the BKU leader’s visit to their region was meant to send a message that “the farmers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are against the farm laws”.

“A group of farmers from Jammu and Kashmir will move to Delhi borders Wednesday to join the agitators there. We will give a memorandum to the authorities of Jammu on January 23 as part of a call given by the farmer outfits,” said Malik.

“This is not the agitation of a particular area but the farmers across the country have joined this struggle. The farmers may belong to any caste, creed or religion but they are united in this battle. The implementation of these laws won’t affect the farmers alone but common man too. The corporates may sell the pulses at the rate of Rs 400 per kg after purchasing the same at the rate of Rs 50 kg from farmers,” he added. The farmer leaders suspect the removal of upper cap on stocks of essential commodities may lead to inflation adding the corporates may keep huge stocks for long to get higher prices of the food grains purchased from the farmers. However, the government has been insisting the farm laws have been introduced to benefit the farmers.

(WITH ENS DELHI)

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