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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Unions make it clear: R-Day tractor parade will take place, our constitutional right

Hearing a petition, the Supreme Court Monday told the Centre that the proposed tractor rally by farmers on Republic Day is a matter of "law and order" and Delhi Police is the first authority to decide who should be allowed to enter the national capital.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: January 19, 2021 12:41:55 pm
Tractors omnipresent, so is Tricolour: Protesters say one on every vehicleBefore the rally, the national flag will also be hoisted at a stage erected on the Ghazipur flyover. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

The protesting union leaders Monday said they will go ahead with their tractor parade on January 26 as it “is their constitutional right to take out a rally peacefully” and asserted that they will raise the issue in the tenth round of talks with government on January 20.

Hearing a petition, the Supreme Court Monday told the Centre that the proposed tractor rally by farmers on the Republic Day is a matter of “law and order” and Delhi Police is the first authority to decide who should be allowed to enter the national capital.

“We welcome the SC order. The government needs to understand that it is a peaceful march. We will be discussing the issue with the ministerial delegation during the 10th round of talks,” said Prem Singh Bhangu, president of Kul Hind Kisan Federation’s Punjab unit.

Late on Monday, the Agriculture ministry said that talks earlier scheduled for Tuesday were postponed to Wednesday.

Bhangu, who is one of the seven spokespersons for the unions during talks with the government, further said that they will hold a meeting tomorrow to decide “whether we need to seek permission from Delhi Police or not”.

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) Punjab general secretary Paramjit Singh said that farmers are not going to hold their rally on Rajpath and in other high-security areas. “We are stuck at the Delhi borders. We have not decided to sit at these borders ourselves, we have been stopped from entering Delhi. We will take out the rally peacefully without disrupting any law and order. We will exercise our constitutional right and we will definitely enter Delhi,” Paramjit Singh said.

Bhangu said it is likely that there won’t be a specific route for the tractor parade. “Farmers are protesting at Tikri, Singhu, Ghazipur, Shahjahanpur and Palwal borders. So the tractor march will happen from all the locations on outer ring road Farmers from Rajasthan too are ready while batches of tractors from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have already arrived at Singhu for the parade . The route will be discussed in our meeting and our volunteers will manage traffic, and will also maintain discipline.”

Another farmer leader Lakhbir Singh, who is vice president (Punjab) of All India Kisan Sabha, said that farmers will return to protest sites after taking out the tractor rally. “We will not go to any place where there might be a government gathering, and all our tractors will have a national flag and the flags of our farmer unions,” Lakhbir said.

Asked about their stand in case the Delhi Police does not give them permission for the tractor parade, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said that farmers have constitutional rights to hold the tractor rally peacefully. “If the Delhi Police has some issues over law and order on Republic Day, they can sit with Sankyukt Kisan Morcha and tell about alternatives routes for the tractor rally. Thereafter, our farmers’ committee will decide the same. But, it is very clear that their tractor rally will be taken out in the national capital on January 26,” Ugrahan said.

His outfit’s senior vice-president Jhanda Singh questioned the need to seek permission from Delhi Police. “They will deny it anyway. In the next round of talks we will mention our tractor parade. We will also ask them (Centre) the reason behind sending NIA notices to transporters, farmers, the Khalsa Aid and many others in Punjab. This is a bid to stop the tractor march. We will go ahead with it”.

Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan), said the farmers will carry out rehearsals in 16 districts of Punjab on January 20 and 21. “Even now, many villagers are practising for the parade on their own.”

The farm outfit’s vice-president Harinder Kaur Bindu said more than 500 women have registered themselves as volunteers for the tractor march. “Apart from driving tractors, they will also be maintaining discipline and look after sanitation”.

Buta Singh Burjgill, president BKU (Dakaunda) said they will seek permission for parade on Delhi’s Outer Ring road. “We have not come here to cause any discomfort to anyone. We are here to get the laws repealed. Republic Day is a celebration of our constitutional rights. If they stop us from organizing tractor parade, it will be an attack on our democratic rights,” Burjgill said.

Earlier in the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, while hearing the Centre’s application seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of the Republic Day, said that police has all the authority to deal with the matter.

The Supreme Court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. The committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday.

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