‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally

The rallies at four borders of Delhi come just a day ahead of farmers’ talks with the Centre on 8 January.

Updated
India
4 min read

Farmers protesting the three contentious farm laws held tractor rallies on Thursday, 7 January, at four borders of Delhi, including the Eastern and the Western Peripheral Expressways.

The rallies that were held on four routes, Tikri to Kundli, Tikri to Singhu, Ghazipur to Palwal and Rewasan to Palwal, were a “rehearsal for the 26 January parade,” the farmers said.

The rallies come just a day ahead of the talks with the Centre scheduled for Friday, 8 January.

“This tractor rally is the rehearsal for our tractor parade of 26 January,” farmer leader Rakesh Tikait told The Quint. Tikait said that he feels the matter will not be resolved by 26 January.
Rakesh Tikait (in the driver’s seat) participates in the tractor rally.
Rakesh Tikait (in the driver’s seat) participates in the tractor rally.
(Photo: Shadab Moizee/The Quint)
“We have made plans till May 2024. We are prepared till then. We are ready to hold our ground till 2024. It will take a year or two, but the government will relent before 2024.”

Asked if they had made plans till 2024 keeping the next Lok Sabha elections in view, Tikait replied: “No. What have we to do with Lok Sabha elections?”

Tikait said that all the meetings that have taken place with the government were devoid of any substance.

“These meetings are like listing a court case, without registering it.”
Rakesh Tikait

Kulwant Sandhu, General Secretary of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, said that the farmers won’t be getting tired anytime soon.

“This is like a smaller rehearsal parade being conducted before the big parade. The rehearsal itself has turned out to be five times bigger than what we had anticipated,” Sandhu said.

‘Nobody Misleading Us’: Female Farmers, Army Veterans Join Rally

‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally
(Photo: Shadab Moizee/The Quint)

Reacting to claims of having been misled, Babli Singh, a woman farmer from Hapur, said: “You tell me, who is misleading us? No Opposition leader is standing here with us. We are all farmers, and we are marching. We are fighting our own fight.”

“This is a trial run for the 26 January rally. We want to show the government how our elders and brothers will participate in the 26 January parade,” she said.

“The fact that the government is ready to compromise means that there are faults. Why aren’t they explaining the benefits of the law? We haven’t been able to understand any benefits, if there are any at all,” Babli Singh added.
‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally
(Photo: Shadab Moizee/The Quint)

Subedar (Retd) Gurchand Singh, an Army veteran participating in the rally, said that the laws are a death warrant for farmers.

“These laws need to be repealed. It’s a death warrant for farmers. The Central government has become deaf and mute. This rally is being conducted to wake them up,” he said.
‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally
(Photo: Shadab Moizee/The Quint)

Show of Strength

Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) Chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan, ahead of the rally, had told NDTV that over 3,500 tractors and trolleys were expected to participate.

Haryana DGP Manoj Yadav had earlier told The Indian Express that they had granted permission to farmers to carry out the tractor rally ‘in principle’.

‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally
(Photo: The Quint)
‘Rehearsal for 26 Jan’: Show of Strength at Farmers’ Tractor Rally
(Photo: PTI)

As reported by The Indian Express, police officers had claimed that the rally will impact the movement of normal traffic on the expressway.

The Delhi Traffic Police also tweeted updates on diverted traffic routes. The Singhu, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari, Saboli and Mangesh borders were shut for traffic.

Central armed police forces personnel, along with Haryana Police personnel armed with water cannons and other such equipment, were reportedly deployed to maintain law and order.

A child sits at the site of a tractor rally.
A child sits at the site of a tractor rally.
(Photo Courtesy: Sandeep Singh)

Even after seven rounds of talks between the Centre and farm unions, there seems to be no agreement on the three farm laws that have sparked protests across the country.

The latest meeting between the farm unions and the Centre, represented by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash on 4 January, ended on an inconclusive note.

(With inputs from The Indian Express, NDTV and ANI.)

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