3,000 tractors on the farmers’ march
A day before their talks with the Center, farmers protesting the three farm laws held a tractor march on the two ring roads around the capital on Thursday.
According to agricultural union leaders, about 3,000 tractors participated in the march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal or Western Peripheral highway and at least 500 on the Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal or Eastern Peripheral highway. Together, the two expressways form a ring around Delhi and were built to keep unintended traffic away from Delhi in the face of increasing air pollution.
With loudspeakers mounted on tractors playing songs of resistance, protesters from the Singhu border had started the demonstration towards the other protest site on the Tikri border and vice versa at 11 am. The farmers made a U-turn from the Kharkhauda-Bahardurgarh exit on the highway around 1 pm and returned to their protest sites at night.
The tractor march in western UP started from UP’s gate at 9:30 a.m. M. They drove on the inner lanes of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME) for about an hour to reach the EPE Dasna interchange (about 23 km). Farmers had previously planned that from the Dasna exchange they would move EPE to Palwal. However, they shortened the route and got on the Sirsa tollbooth near Dankaur in Gautam Budh Nagar and returned to the UP gate at 5.30pm.
In the Nuh district of Haryana, some farmers alleged that they were prevented from joining the demonstration. The protesters, along with local residents. They marched into the district.
The protesters said Thursday’s march was only a preview of their planned Republic Day march, if the government did not accept their demands.
Jasbinder Kaur, 65, a resident of Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab, traveled by tractor to participate in the rally. “My children said it would not be suitable for me to ride a tractor on a highway in this cold weather, but I insisted on joining them. I am here to fight for my future generations and I will not return until these three black laws are repealed. It’s just a trailer. The image will be released on January 26, when we will all march towards the Gateway of India, ”he said.
Amarpreet Kaur, 18, said he has been attending the protest on the Tikri border for the past 40 days. “My father had committed suicide three years ago after failing to repay a loan of Rs 6 lakh. We have struggled to survive ever since. I wanted to go to a good university in a big city like any other girl, but I had to stay in the village to help my mother in agriculture. The government wants to steal a small piece of land that we have left. Today is a dress rehearsal. But it’s not even close to what will happen on January 26. Thousands of farmers will join us for the tractor march to the Gateway of India that day, ”he said.
Many women were also seen riding the tractors during the rally. Among them was Harinder Bindu, a member of the Bharatiya Kisan (Ugrahan) Union. She said: “We want to tell the government that we are ready for as long as it takes. It will be better if the government listens to our demand as soon as possible. We live on the roads in this biting cold. Who likes to live like this? ”
Peasant leaders said they received “overwhelming” support on Thursday. “Hundreds of tractors had joined us from Punjab and Haryana during the demonstration. Many of them did not return and joined us in Singhu and Tikri to participate in the January 26 march to India Gate. The government must understand the scope of our protest and accept our demands, ”said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Secretary General of BKU (Punjab).
Farmers camping in the Burari field also held a tractor march.
Officials from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) said they had to close the EPE for traffic in the wake of the demonstration.
“Regular commuter traffic faced disruptions at the DME when tractors were driving Dasna from UP-Gate in the morning and also when returning to UP-Gate. Furthermore, we had to stop traffic on the entire stretch of EPE until the moment it was occupied by tractors. In accordance with MoRTH guidelines, no tractors were allowed in EPE. But they came. We had written to the district authorities on Wednesday about this, but our EPE traffic was still disrupted, ”said Mudit Garg, NHAI project manager.
Gaurav Tikait, national chairman of the youth wing of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which is leading the protests at UP Gate, said: “It was not a ‘shakti pradarshan’ (show of force) ahead of scheduled talks with the government on Friday. . It was aimed at consolidating our collective struggle and meeting with other groups that are protesting in different places, ”said Tikait.
Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed on expressways to guarantee public order. No adverse incidents were reported from anywhere.
A senior Delhi police officer said: “The situation remained peaceful in the capital. No adverse incidents were reported. ”
With input from Peeyush Khandelwal and HT’s Gurugram office.