New Delhi, Jan 7 : A day ahead of the next round of talks with the Union government, thousands of farmers protesting on the Delhi borders organised a ‘tractor march’ on Thursday amid tight security, describing the event as a “rehearsal” for a similar roadshow proposed on January 26 to oppose the three new Central farm laws.
The farmers are also giving training to women to drive tractors in several districts of Haryana and also to the women participating in the agitation at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border, who are set to join the tractor parade on Republic Day.
The march comprising both men and women sitting on hundreds of tractors was flagged off from the Singhu and Tikri entry points on the Delhi-Haryana borders and Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at 11 am.
Police were deployed on the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana borders with Delhi to accompany the farmers during the march.
The sloganeering farmers drove their tractors towards Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways while demanding the three farm laws be repealed, warning to intensify their protest if the government doesn’t agree to their demands.
A few farmers even performed stunts and danced to songs played on the music systems installed on their tractors on the Eastern Peripheral Highway, where they sat to eat ‘langar’ in the afternoon.
The tractors in the convoy sported the tricolour and farmer union flags, apart from banners proclaiming their opposition to the farm laws even as policemen and bystanders looked on with curiosity.
After the meeting on the peripheral highway, the farmers returned to the protest spots on the Delhi borders, from where they had started in the morning.
Speaking to the media, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan said that over 3,500 tractor-trolleys were driven during the march.
Later in the day, the farmers converged on the highway and discussed their future strategy.
“The government should listen to the farmers. We are just demanding the contentious farm laws be repealed,” Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait told IANS.
The tractor march was organised by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella of 40 farmers’ unions, to demand repealing of the three new farm laws and procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price.
The march was initially scheduled for Wednesday but was cancelled due to inclement weather.
In view of the tractor march, authorities had ordered diversion of traffic at several points on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway.
“The tractor march passed through the Eastern Peripheral Road and returned through the Expressway,” a police officer said.
Meanwhile, many women participants in the farmers’ agitation are also learning driving skills to participate in the tractor parade. Many women at Singhu border and in Jind district of Haryana have been seen taking driving lessons to participate in the tractor parade planned on January 26.
The seventh round of talks between the Centre and farm leaders on their remaining demands ended in a stalemate on Monday. Both sides will now meet again on Friday.