New Delhi: On the eve of another round of talks with the government, thousands of farmers on Thursday took out tractor marches from protest sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders and Haryana’s Rewasan as the agitating unions asserted they would not accept the Centre’s offer of amendments to the three farm laws.
According to the protesting farm unions, these marches were a “rehearsal” for their proposed January 26 “Kisan parade” to the national capital from different parts of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The tractor marches started from four different points — Singhu to Tikri Border, Tikri to Kundli, Ghazipur to Palwal and Rewasan to Palwal.
The protesting unions claimed the marches were “a grand success”.
With their eighth round of meeting with the Centre is scheduled to take place on Friday, the protesting unions made it clear that three farm laws should be repealed and minimum support price for crops should be made into a legal right of all farmers.
“We will never accept the amendments offered by the government and to fulfil our demands, we will continue to intensify the protests,” Samkyukt Kisan Morch, an umbrella body of 40 protesting unions, said.
From the Singhu and Tikri borders, farmers drove their tractors towards the the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway in the morning and then they came back later.
Perched on their tractors, protesting farmers moved slowly through the protest sites, with speakers on their vehicles belting out music keeping their spirits high. Other protestors lined the path providing fellow farmers with all kinds of supplies, including peanuts, fritters, tea, and newspapers.
Farmers, with more than 5,000 tractors and other vehicles, have again showed to the world that they are united, focused, tireless, and firm in their resolve, Morch’s senior member Darshan Pal said.
As farmers, especially youths owing allegiance to different farm bodies took part in the march, their tractors sported the tricolour, the flags of the farmers’ unions and banners mentioning ‘No Farmer No Food’.
Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan said that they will not accept anything less than the repeal of the three farm laws.
Another BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) leader Shingara Singh Mann said “The tractor rally was peaceful and was a complete success.”
The last meeting between farm unions and Union ministers remained inconclusive on Monday as the former stuck to their demand for the repeal of the three laws, while the government listed out various benefits of the new acts for the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
From Ghazipur, the tractor march, led by senior BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, moved towards Palwal.
“In the coming days, we will intensify our agitation against the three farm laws. Around 2,500 tractors from Haryana have participated in today’s march.
“We want to warn that if the government doesn’t not accept our demands, farmers’ protest will get intensified further,” Abhimanyu Kohar, a senior member of Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, told PTI.
At Tikri Border protest site, some persons allegedly misbehaved with mediapersons.
Samkyukt Kisan Morch condemned the attack on a section of media, saying that the discipline committee is investigating into the reports received and the individuals concerned will be handed over to the police.
“The government has been hosting meeting after meeting. They know what we want. We want the laws to be repealed, but all we get are futile talks. With this rally, we want to give them a glimpse of what we can do, and what we will do on January 26.
“Today, the rally is happening on the periphery of Delhi, but when our farmer leaders decide that we need to enter the capital, we will do that,” Harjinder Singh, a participant of tractor march from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur, said.
In a statement later, Sankyukt Kisan Moarcha claimed that across the nation, farmers showed unity by participating in tractor marches in their own localities, adding that farmers in many districts of Uttar Pradesh had tractor marches in their respective block and district headquarters.
Women farmers also participated in all marches in large numbers, it stated, adding that farmers in various towns of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand also participated in this nationwide event.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.