Ghaziabad: Tractors arriving in groups for rally, officials keep tab on count
Ghaziabad: Amrit Pal Singh, a young man from Ramraj village in Muzaffarnagar, came to the UP Gate protest site on the Ghaziabad-Delhi border along with his group and a tableau for the tractor rally on Republic Day.
The group travelled about 150 kilometres and reached UP Gate Monday evening. They said there was no hindrance posed by the police midway. Their tableau shows old equipment which were used by farmers and some of them still continue to be used in the farming sector.
“The tableau showcases equipment like hand-pumps, tiller and ‘hal’ (plough), among other tools made of iron. We spent about ₹1.5 lakh to procure this equipment and to get it painted, while about ₹4 lakh was spent on renovating an old vehicle which will pull the tableau,” he said.
The farmers have been protesting since November 28 last year at the UP Gate site, which is located on the border of Delhi and Ghaziabad, demanding repeal of the three new farm laws. Their successive talks with the government have ended in stalemates while the government, during the recent round of talks, had offered that it was ready to put on hold the implementation of the three new laws for about one-and-a-half years. However, the farmers did not accept the proposal and the stalemate continues, as they demand a complete repeal of the three laws and a new law on minimum support price (MSP). As a mark of protest, the farmers have planned to take out a tractor rally on Republic Day in the national Capital.
Other groups are also congregating at the UP Gate and bringing in different items to showcase at the tractor parade.
Jang Bahadur and his group arrived from Khanjarpur village in Modinagar, and brought along four old traditional carts pulled by as many bulls. He says each of the carts has been painted and is almost half the size of normal carts used by farmers.
“I have got these painted and decorated, and spent about ₹30,000 on each. They will be pulled by bulls during the parade. With a one time meal, they can move about 60kms. I have been preparing these carts since the start of the farmers’ agitation and now they are ready to be part of the parade,” Bahadur said.
On Monday, the mood at the UP Gate was jubilant as youngsters and farmers at the site were making last minute preparations for the event on Tuesday, with almost all tractors and other vehicles sporting the national flag.
However, officials estimated that the gathering at UP Gate swelled to about more than 10-15 thousand as families of protesters and farmers’ groups arrived along with tractor-trolleys.
With the arrival of tractors and vehicles, the UP Gate site now spans more than two kilometres.
The tractors which are arriving for the event have occupied the NH-9 carriageway and also the UP Gate to Vaishali road. Although the farmers’ leaders claim that the tractors will be thousands in numbers but the official sources from the local intelligence unit said that about 1200 tractors and about 500 other vehicles arrived at UP Gate by Monday evening.
The count of vehicles is maintained, and registration numbers are being noted by the police at all entry points.
“We have not counted the number of tractors, but they will arrive in thousands and have started from different states. It is also a cause of concern that our vehicles are not being given diesel at petrol pumps and the government is trying to create hindrance. If they think that tractors cannot come here without diesel, they are mistaken,” said Rakesh Tikait, farmer leader and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
“The time to struggle has come. So, the farmers should come out of their homes and protest,” he added.
He, however, did not name any place where incidents of fuel being denied to farmers took place, but his supporters were quick to show a social media post in which they claimed that a letter was put up at one of the petrol pumps at Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh.
The officials at the UP Gate site, however, said that the allegations were unfounded and probably levied to downplay the tall claims about arrival of thousands of tractors, while only limited numbers could arrive by Monday evening.
During the tractor march on January 7, farmers at UP Gate had taken to the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) with an estimated count of 700-800 tractors.
“We have no information about farmers’ tractors being denied fuel at petrol pumps. There is no such thing happening anywhere. We are continuously reviewing the security and safety arrangements and are in regular touch with farmers’ leaders at UP Gate to ensure that their rally goes on peacefully,” said Ghaziabad district magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey, adding that about 2,000-2,500 tractors are expected to arrive.
The officials of the Ghaziabad police said in a statement that during the proposed tractor parade, they will deploy 1,000 constables, 500 head constables, 300 sub inspectors, 50 inspectors, 12 circle officers and six additional superintendents of police, while 400 traffic constables along with 50 traffic head constables, 15 traffic sub-inspectors and five traffic inspectors will be deployed to ensure smooth movement of tractors.
They added that six companies of the provincial armed constabulary (PAC) and one company of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) are already deployed.