Out of the 3,000 members who protested in Chennai yesterday, about 1,000 were detained.(HT photo)
Out of the 3,000 members who protested in Chennai yesterday, about 1,000 were detained.(HT photo)

Tamil Nadu farmers, labour unions to join tractor rally on Republic Day

  • Eight delta districts in Tamil Nadu, including Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Tiruvarur, will see maximum strength of the rally.
By Divya Chandrababu, Chennai
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:36 PM IST

Tamil Nadu’s farmers and labour unions will also participate in the Republic Day tractor rally in various districts across the state.

Farmers and trade union workers will march from their taluks or villages towards the district collector’s office or a prominent location where they will congregate. “Tractors, bullock carts and two-wheelers or whatever vehicle we get, we will carry out a parade,” said AIKSCC state coordinator K Balakrishnan. “Since the tractor is the symbol of a farmer, we want to have a minimum of one tractor in every district but farming districts like Nagapattinam will have hundreds of tractors.”

Eight delta districts in Tamil Nadu, including Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Tiruvarur, will see maximum strength of the rally. There won’t be a rally in Chennai as there is no agricultural land in the capital city but its adjoining district will participate.

“Police have been contacting farmers associations and labour unions over the phone since Saturday to ask us about our plans,” said Balakrishnan. “District police have particularly asked owners of tractors not to participate.”

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Cuddalore district police have issued a note that they have received information of farmers planning a tractor rally on January 26 and warned against gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly since a new variant of the virus emerged earlier this month.

“Those who organise protests and gather in large numbers will be severely punished as per law as it may cause a surge in cases,” the Cuddalore police’s statement read. “Tractors without permission used in this rally will be penalised according to Motors (Vehicles) Act (1988) under sections 177, 179 and 207 and the tractors will be seized.”

Senior Tamil Nadu police said that they have not issued any specific instructions regarding the rally on Republic Day. “We will be following the existing government order that’s in place due to the pandemic,” said Tamil Nadu’s director general of police, J K Tripathy. The order mandates that for any public activity to be conducted, permission must be sought from the district collectors and from the city police commissioner in Chennai. “We will make duty arrangements for whatever activity is permitted by district collectors and if it’s not permitted, law and order action will be initiated.”

About 3,000 members from farmers organisations and workers from labour unions of the opposition DMK and Left parties were detained for protesting in Chennai’s Raj Bhavan on Saturday, said Balakrishnan. DMK and its allies have protested and launched hunger strikes in support of the agitating farmers in Delhi. However, the ruling AIADMK government has been in favour of the three new farm bills so the Bharat Bandh called on December 8 was subdued in Tamil Nadu.

The state government said that they have not discussed this matter as yet. “The state hasn’t received any information so far we haven’t decided on any precautionary measures,” said AIADMK spokesperson Vaigaichelvan.

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