Thousands of tractors head to UP Gate from as farmers prepare for ‘tractor parade’ on Republic Day
Monu Singh, a farmer from Nangal Bhagwanpur village in Baghpat, is back at the UP Gate protest site and has been arranging tractors for the proposed “parade” which the agitators are planning to take out on the outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day.
Monu lost his father, Galtan Singh, 57, on January 1 this year at the UP Gate protest site. That loss has only made his resolve stronger.
After performing the required rituals, Monu returned to UP Gate on January 7 and is now busy with his team to rope in tractors from Baghpat region. He said that six tractors have already come and about a 1,000 more are expected before January 26. The tractors which have come have been welded with additional sheets of iron in front which generally provide added protection to the vehicle. They can now barge through barricades if required.
“I never wanted to leave the protest site, but the last rituals of my father had to be performed. I rushed back after finishing them. Our group has purchased 1000 tricolours and 1000 other flags of our farmers’ union. Since, many farmers did not get the sugarcane payment we dumped our stock at crushers at low rates and purchased flags,” he, said.
The tractor parade this time is expected to see arrival of thousands of tractors from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and will be a much bigger event than the tractor march which was held on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway on January 7.
The farmers said that all the tractors will be fitted with the tricolour as well as the flags of the respective farmers’ unions. Besides this, the farmers are also preparing tableaux.
“Our group is preparing a tableau which will show exploitation of farmers and will also have farmers dressed up like our freedom fighters. Our tractors will arrive here by January 25 and will be lined up on the main road leading from UP Gate to Vaishali,” Monu added.
The farmer leaders said that hundreds of tractors have started their journey from areas like Lucknow, Pilibhit and nearby areas on Friday morning and are likely to reach UP Gate by January 23/24.
“Groups of tractors from Uttarakhand will start on Saturday and will reach here the next day. They will remain parked over the Delhi-Meerut Expressway before proceeding for the tractor parade on January 26. We have decided to rope in 500 volunteers who will ensure discipline during the tractor parade,” Jagtar Singh Bajwa, member of UP Gate farmers’ committee and a farmer leader from Uttarakhand said, adding that “appropriate action” will be taken if the tractors are stopped midway.
During previous instances, the protesters at UP Gate had resorted to blockade of Delhi-Ghaziabad carriageway of the Delhi Meerut Expressway when their tractors were held up midway by authorities.
“During the parade, we will rope in ambulances as well as couple of trolleys carrying food, water and other items. Even mechanics will be a part of rally so that they can immediately take up repairs if any tractor breaks down,” he, added.
The UP Gate protest site has a majority of farmers who have come from different regions of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and are camping since November 28.
Groups of protestes are also camping at the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway of the Delhi Meerut Expressway since December 3.
“During the previous tractor march, we had apprised the district officials that tractors were not being allowed over the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, but the farmers took out their rally. Even this time if their tractors arrive on the Delhi Meerut Expressway, it will be up to the district officials to look into the matter. We are already facing issues with our work which is getting delayed due to their protest,” said Mudit Garg, project director of National Highways Authority of India.
The UP Gate protest site now stretches up to outside the Khoda Colony from UP-Gate, which is over a kilometre away and the occupancy is likely to be extended further once more farmers arrive with their tractors.
“The tractors will have no space at UP-Gate so they will be lined up on the expressway. They will come in hundreds from different regions in UP and Uttarakhand and will occupy the expressway,” said Rajbir Singh, state vice-president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
“As of now the farmers have told us that they will hold the tractor parade. On our part, we have deployed police personnel by dividing the UP-Gate into several sectors. We will also make arrangement and ensure that tractors get parked in vacant spaces and do not pose any hindrance to the traffic on the expressway,” said Gyanendra Singh, superintendent of police (city 2).