Thousands leave for Delhi ahead of rally from Punjab, Haryana
- In the Haryana districts of Rohtak, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Dadri, villages emptied out as farmers drove to Delhi in tractors-trailers, cars, SUVs and motorbikes.
Thousands of tractors clogged key roads in north India on Monday as farmers left their homes in villages, hamlets and cities across Punjab and Haryana to join a tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day, aimed at pressing for the repeal of three recently passed agriculture laws.
Unprecedented fervour about the farmers’ show of strength swept all three regions of Malwa Majha and Doaba in Punjab. Local people reported that the ubiquitous tractor, a symbol of pride and prosperity in the breadbasket state, was missing from its usual parking spot outside houses as entire families left for the Capital.
Residents of villages along the highway set up langars, or community kitchens, to serve food to those on their way to join the protests and local shopkeepers offered water, juice and refreshments.
“The population of my village is around 1,100 and around 100 men have left for Delhi for the tractor parade,” said Harwinder Singh of Pallah village in Amritsar district.
In the Haryana districts of Rohtak, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Dadri, villages emptied out as farmers drove to Delhi in tractors-trailers, cars, SUVs and motorbikes. “Over 1,000 tractors belonging to our khap have moved for Delhi border. Villages are empty as men, women and children are headed towards Delhi. We will take part in the historic parade and the world will witness farmers’ struggle,” said Tekram Kandela, head of Jind’s Kandela khap, a community organisation.
Many vehicles were freshly painted and decorated with flowers, with the Tricolour affixed on one side and carrying ration, mattresses and other essentials. “It was not possible for all farmers to reach Delhi, so, it was planned that people will gather at district headquarters on Republic Day for a peaceful protest. All arrangements are in place across districts,” said Resham Singh, general secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur), Bathinda unit.
At the Punjab-Haryana border at Shambu, local traders reported surging demand for farm union flags, badges, stickers and other pro-agitation buntings. Jang Singh, Patiala president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said an appeal was made to villagers to send at least two members of their families to Delhi.
Dayanand Punia, a farm leader from Bhiwani, said 1,500 tractor-trolleys left for Delhi from Loharu, represented by Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal. “The villagers have collected money to bear all expenses and compensate loss in any vehicle, if any incident takes place. Women in our villages will look after the fields in our absence. At least 11 women from each village will take in the parade,” he added.
A long queue of tractors lined the highway from Rohtak to Tikri on the outskirts of Delhi. A 30km-long traffic snarl jammed the road near the Singhu border. Tractors were seen moving at a snail’s pace along the Ambala-Delhi stretch on National Highway-44 and other arterial roads.
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