Thousands of farmers are set to participate in a tractor rally on Republic Day (26 January) in Delhi, as farmers' leaders claimed on Saturday that the Delhi Police has granted permission for the mega event.
However, Delhi Police Additional Public Relation Officer Anil Mittal was quoted by PTI as saying, "We are in the final stages of talks with the farmers."
Over two lakh tractors are expected to take part in the parade and there will be around five routes. The tractor parades will be taken out only after 12 pm, after the Republic Day parade on Delhi's Rajpath concludes, according to protesting farmer unions.
On Saturday, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana on Saturday set out for Delhi in tractor-trolleys and other vehicles, in preparation for the rally.
Meanwhile, late on Friday night, farmer leaders alleged that a conspiracy had been hatched to kill four of them and create a disturbance during the Republic Day tractor rally.
At a late-night press conference at the Singhu border, the farmer leaders presented a person who claimed that his accomplices were allegedly asked to pose as policemen and baton charge the crowd during the proposed tractor rally.
The man was interrogated by the Haryana Police on Saturday.
Additionally, 32 Punjab farmer unions were scheduled to hold a meeting at the Singhu border on Saturday to reconsider the government's proposal to put the contentious laws on hold, PTI reported.
The report also said that a meeting of the Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmer organisations leading the protests at several Delhi border points, was also to be held.
Police granted permission for tractor rally, say farmers
Farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar stated that the Delhi Police has given permission to the farmers' tractor parade on 26 January, after attending a meeting between the unions and senior police officers.
The tractor parade will start from the Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points of Delhi, but the final details of routes are yet to be finalised, said Kohar, who is a senior member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha.
Farmer leaders said that five routes have been decided in-principle and farmers will cover 100 kilometres with tractors on every route, and added that 70 to 78 percent of the routes will culminate inside Delhi while the remaining will be outside the National Capital.
PTI quoted sources as saying that one possible route for the tractor parade from Singhu border will be to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar and it will pass through the Kanjhawala and Bawana areas and then return to the protest site.
Farmers camping at the Tikri border point will start their tractor parade from the protest site and cover areas like Nangloi, Najafgarh, Badli, and Kundli-Manesar Palwal (KMP) Expressway, they said.
For farmers camping at the Ghazipur border point, their tractor parade will cover areas like Apsra border-Ghaziabad-Duhai and return to Ghazipur, the sources said.
However, tractor parade routes for farmers camping at Shahjahanpur and Palwal have not been decided yet, they said.
Farmer leader Darshan Pal said that "barricades set up at Delhi borders will be removed on 26 January and farmers will take out tractor parade after entering the National Capital".
"We have almost finalised fives routes," Pal, who is also a member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, said.
Another farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said that as thousands of farmers will participate in the parade, there will be no single route as it is not possible to manage huge crowds on a particular route.
Earlier, there have been three rounds of meetings between the unions and police officers from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, but it was the fourth round of talks over the tractor parade on Friday where both sides reached an agreement.
While police tried to convince farmer leaders to hold their tractor parade outside the National Capital, they were adamant on holding the proposed rally on Delhi's busy Outer Ring Road.
Meanwhile, a control room has been set up by the unions to make arrangements for the 26 January tractor parade.
A farmer leader said that 2,500 volunteers will be deployed to facilitate the movement of tractors but their number could be increased depending upon the crowd.
Kirti Kisan Union president Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, who presided over a meeting of the Punjab farmers' unions, said that more than one lakh tractors are expected to arrive from the state.
"This is going to be a historic rally. We will have around 2,500 volunteers who will part of the tractor rally on Republic Day. In case, anyone needs assistance or help during the rally, these volunteers will assist them. They will be responsible to ensure smooth movement of tractors in an organised and disciplined manner," he said.
Haryana Police questions masked man
A man was questioned by the Haryana police on Saturday after farmers alleged a conspiracy against them.
The man was presented before reporters by the protesting farmer leaders on Friday night.
A police official said the man, stated to be around 21 years of age, was being quizzed in Sonipat by the Crime Branch of the state police. He said the man was residing in Sonipat and had no previous criminal record.
"He was not carrying any arms or ammunition. We are questioning him, but nothing has so far been found that points to any kind of conspiracy, as is being alleged," the official said, adding that further investigations are underway.
Farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu alleged that attempts are being made to disrupt the ongoing agitation against three farm laws.
The man, who had his face covered with a scarf, claimed at the press conference that a plan was hatched to shoot four farmer leaders, who are known faces in the media, at the stage on Saturday.
"On 26 January, there was a plan to create disturbance during the tractor parade by opening fire on Delhi Police personnel, which would prompt them to retaliate against the protesting farmers in a strong manner," he said.
Shun your ego and accept farmers' demands: Sukhbir Badal to Centre
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal asked the BJP-led Centre to shun the "ego" and accept the demand of farmers of repealing the three farm laws.
"It is shameful to see that the Central Government is adamant on its stand and not ready to repeal farm laws as per the demand of farmers," he said.
Badal said farmers of the country are united in their demand to repeal these laws which will completely "destroy" future generations of the farmers.
In a statement, Badal strongly condemned the registration of a case against Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
He alleged that the Centre was pursuing "vendetta" politics against those who were supporting farmers in their cause.
Sirsa is serving 'langar' to farmers and standing by them in this hour of crisis and that is the sole reason he is being dragged into "false" cases, Badal alleged. The Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing registered a cheating case against Sirsa, officials had said.
Badal also slammed Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, accusing him of having "failed" to fulfil even one promise made to the people of the state. He said making announcements is a different thing and implementing them is different.
Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round saw both the sides hardening their positions and could not even reach a decision on the next date for the meeting.
Enacted in September last year, the three farm laws " Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act " have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.