Tractor ‘parade’ on R-Day if calls for not met, say unions

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2

Toughening their stance ahead of the January 4 talks with the government, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha today said it would organise a tractor march to Delhi on January 26, when the country celebrates Republic Day, if their demands were not met.

Addressing a press conference, the union leaders said time had come for a “decisive” action as their key demands —repealing the three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP for crops — had not been addressed by the government.

Time for decisive action

Either repeal the laws or use force to evict us. We have chosen January 26 for tractor parade as Republic Day represents the supremacy of the people. —Ashok Dhawale, Farm leader

The Morcha, an umbrella body representing around 40 farm unions, took the decision for the Republic Day march following a meeting of its seven-member coordination committee at Singhu near Delhi border.

Farmer leader Darshan Pal Singh said their proposed march would be called “kisan parade” and it would be held after the Republic Day parade. For it, he said, a mobilisation campaign would be launched across the country from January 6 to 20.

‘Protest our right’

The court has also said peaceful protest is one’s right. We are not here for confrontation. —BS Rajewal, Farmers’ leader

Asked about the route and timing, Pal said the unions would announce it later. He said their plan for the proposed tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) highway on January 6 would remain unchanged. It, he said, would be a “rehearsal” parade of their January 26 tractor march.

Ashok Dhawale, another farm leader, said, “We intend to be peaceful. We had long ago told the government that it has only two options—either repeal the laws or use force to evict us. The time has come for decisive action and we have chosen January 26 as the Republic Day represents the supremacy of the people.”

Union leaders said though they were hopeful for the January 4 meeting, they could not trust the government going by their past experience.

Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said it was a “plain lie” that the government had accepted 50 per cent of the farmers’ demands. “We have got nothing on paper yet,” he said.

Union leader BS Rajewal pointed out that the court had also said “peaceful protest” was one’s right. “We are not here for confrontation,” he said.

After the sixth round of formal negotiations on Wednesday, the government and farm unions reached some common ground to resolve protesting farmers’ concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of the laws and a legal guarantee for MSP

Farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni said, “In our last meeting, we posed a question to the government that will you buy 23 crops on MSP? They said ‘no’. Then why are you misinforming the people of the country?”

Meanwhile, a 75-year-old farmer, Sardar Kashmir Singh, protesting at Ghazipur on the UP-Delhi border allegedly died by suicide on Saturday.

Indirapuram DSP Anshu Jain said a purported suicide note written in Gurumukhi was found on him. In the note, it was written that the government must repeal the farm laws as these were against the interests of farmers.

In the note, Singh expressed anguish that though some people from Punjab died during the agitation, no one from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand had sacrificed his life for the cause. He also requested the Sikh community to help his family marry off his two granddaughters and to address the domestic problems being faced by his married daughter.

His body was handed over to his grandchildren who too were part of the protest in Ghazipur, the police said.

Farmer ends life at ghazipur

Ghaziabad: A 75-year-old farmer protesting at Ghazipur on the UP-Delhi border allegedly died by suicide on Saturday. Kashmir Singh of Bilaspur in UP’s Rampur district allegedly hanged himself in a mobile toilet using a rope, police said. pti

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