Tamil Nadu tractor rally largely peaceful; farmers, cops scuffle in delta areas
Farmers and workers from several labour unions of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies, including the Left parties, participated in tractor rallies across various districts in Tamil Nadu. The state police had a different approach in different districts and varying degrees of what was allowed for the rally. While the rallies ended peacefully by afternoon in a few districts, there was a tussle between police and farmers in the delta districts.
In Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts, there was heavy police deployment, and a scuffle broke out between the police and the farmers who started the rally with bullock carts, tractors, jeeps and two-wheelers. In Thanjavur, the farmers removed barricades and ropes to continue their rally and ended it by afternoon.
Hundreds of tractors participated in Nagapattinam district and were stopped. “A confrontation is still going on between police and farmers there,” said state coordinator of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee K Balakrishnan. Police are at the location with a riot control vehicle to stop the rally and have warned of arrests. Policemen and farmers were also seen pushing one another after the tractors were not allowed to proceed. Some farmers continued their rally on foot. In Karur district too, they were allowed to continue the rally on foot.
In Cuddalore, no tractor was allowed to enter the city, while in Virudhunagar, one tractor was allowed and hundreds of farmers joined on their two-wheelers. Police said that the rallies went on peacefully in these two places. “Since we had warned them earlier, farmers took put a rally only on two-wheleers,” said a station officer from Cuddalore. The district police had issued a note warning 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.”
The opposition DMK and its allies have protested and launched hunger strikes in support of the agitating farmers in Delhi in the recent months. However, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government has been in favour of the three new farm bills.