NEW DELHI, Jan 19: The protesting farmers squatting on the borders of Delhi for the last 55 days have decided to go ahead with the proposed tractor rally in the national capital on the Republic Day irrespective of an official permission from the Delhi police.
The representatives of the farmers’ unions held a meeting with the Delhi and Haryana police over the rally after which one of the farmer leaders Balbir Singh Rajewal said the farmers’ decision to hold the rally was final.
“We are preparing for holding a march of tractors and tableaux reflecting the lifestyle of farmers on the outer Ring Road and that there would be no change in the route plan,” Rajewal said. He maintained that the rally would be totally peaceful and orderly. The farmers were sticking to the outer Ring Road of Delhi and it no way interfere or disturb the official R–Day rally held every year on Delhi’s Rajpath, he pointed out. He also dismissed any talk of limiting the number of participants in the rally claiming that more than “a lakh of tractors” would be participating in it.
The Delhi police are yet to take a decision on giving permission to the agitating farmers to hold the rally. The Supreme Court on Monday had left it on the police to decide on stalling the farmers from holding the rally pointing out that it was a law and order problem and must be dealt with by the law and order machinery.
The Delhi police sources indicated that it was unlikely to give clearance to the agitating farmers to hold the rally due to the apprehension that it could turn violent or might go out of control if lakhs of farmers were allowed to enter the national capital. As hinted by the attorney general during hearing in the apex court, the centre also viewed it as a threat to the dignity of the nation if protest rallies were allowed to run parallel to the official ceremonies.
The Delhi police apparently are in a quandary because if they refuse to give official permission for the rally, the protesting farmers might use force to break the police cordon and hold the rally sparking of violence which the government would loathe. The police was expected to discuss the issue with the union home minister Amit Shah and other central leaders in the next couple of days before taking a final decision on the farmers’ rally, the sources said.