New Delhi: Thousands of agitating farmers from across Punjab and Haryana, who are currently protesting at Delhi-borders, seeking permission to take out a massive tractor rally on Republic Day against three farm laws, have sought written permission from the Delhi Police, as per reports. The cops, however, will take a call on the matter after a meeting today.
More than a thousand tractors are likely to take part in this massive rally, which is to be held on Ring Road, which encircles the city. The farmers’ leaders have said that it would be a peaceful rally and would not interfere with the huge prestigious parade held on Rajpath.
On Saturday, the farmers claimed that they have received permission from the police for the rally, which was swiftly contradicted by the police soon after. “Farmers have not given us any route in writing. We will let you know once we receive a route in written,” Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava had told media.
The Centre has been against the rally, saying it would be an “embarrassment for the nation” because of the timing. It had also approached the Supreme Court, seeking a hold on the rally. The apex court, however, left the decision to the Delhi Police, saying it was a matter of “law and order”.
Turning down the Centre’s argument that it was an “extraordinary situation”, the court said, “Does the Supreme Court say as to what are the powers of police and how they will exercise them? We are not going to tell you what to do”.
To note, the top court had earlier upheld farmers’ constitutional right to hold a peaceful protest.
“We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone’s life or property,” Chief Justice SA Bobde had said holding a hearing in December.
Meanwhile, the protesting farmers have turned down the Centre’s offer of keeping the laws on hold for 18 months while its special committee continues with negotiations. The farmers have also rejected the committee appointed by the SC, alleging all its members are pro-government. One of the committee members, BKU’s Bhupinder Singh Mann had also resigned from the panel stating he wanted to be impartial and because of public sentiment regarding the ongoing opposition from farmers.
Both the sides have reached a deadlock as government has refused to scrap the laws and instead wants it to be resolved by the talks, whereas farmers side is adamant on its complete repeal and has rejected Centre’s proposal of holding the implementation of these three contentious laws, which they say will shrink their income and leave them at the mercy of corporates, for next 18 months.
Furthermore, farmers also want a legal guarantee about the continuation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP), which they fear will be discontinued after a point.
The Centre has reiterated many times that it would not repeal the laws as they are a major reform in the agriculture sector and will help farmers increase their income by allowing them to sell at competitive prices to corporates by removing middlemen.