Farmers to go ahead with tractor march on Republic Day

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New Delhi/Nagpur: Farmer unions protesting against the Centre’s agri laws said on Sunday that they will go ahead with their proposed tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day.

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, union leader Yogendra Yadav said, “We will carry out a tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day. The parade will be very peaceful. There will be no disruption of the Republic Day parade. The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors.”

The authorities had moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. The matter is pending in court.

Another farmer union leader, Darshan Pal Singh, alleged that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is filing cases against those who are part of the protest or supporting it.

“All farmer unions condemn this,” Pal said, referring to the NIA summons reportedly issued to a farmer union leader in a case related to the banned Sikhs For Justice outfit.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmers are prepared to protest against the Centre’s new farm laws “till May 2024”, and termed the ongoing agitation by peasants at Delhi borders as an “ideological revolution”. Addressing a press conference in Nagpur, Tikait said they want a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed committee on the three new farm laws is scheduled to hold its first meeting on January 19 at Pusa campus here, its member Anil Ghanwat said on Sunday.

The Supreme Court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws, against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for over 50 days now, till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.

Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, however, recused himself from the committee last week.

Apart from Ghanwat, agri-economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi are the other panel members.

“We are meeting on January 19 at the Pusa campus. Only members will meet to decide the future course of action,” Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra), said.

“One of the four members has backed out of the committee. If the apex court does not appoint a new member, the existing members will continue,” he said.

The apex court may take into account the matter of recusal of the member from the panel on Monday when it is scheduled to hear the pleas relating to the controversial farm laws and the farmers’ protests.

Ghanwat said the committee has received the terms of reference and will begin its work from January 21.

Asked about the government holding parallel talks with protesting farmer unions after the setting up of the SC panel, he said, “We have no issue if a solution is found and the protests end from either (efforts of) our panel or from the government’s separate talks with the protesting farmer unions.” “Let (government) them continue the discussion, we have been given a duty and we will focus on that,” he added.

So far, the government has held nine rounds of formal talks with 41 farmer unions but failed to break the logjam, as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.

In the last meeting, the Centre had suggested that the unions constitute their own informal group to prepare a concrete proposal on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting on January 19 to end the long-running protest at various Delhi borders.

The top court would also hear on Monday the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi police, seeking an injunction against a proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers that may disrupt the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.