As promised, the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally has begun in full swing. The rally, held by thousands of Indian farmers to the capital New Delhi has unexpectedly turned violent, with police using tear gas and lathi charging the protestors as they broke barricades in attempts to force their way into the city.
On what is now the 62nd day of these protests, thousands of farmers have left their homelands, camping at the Singhu and Tikri border points of the national capital have begun a much anticipated tractor rally to protest the exploitative farm laws.
After several failed attempts at negotiations with the Centre, the farmers had been allowed a peaceful protest and tractor rally on Republic Day. The Delhi Police, in its no-objection certificate, had permitted the protests to take place between 12noon to 6pm, and had also laid out a map with a route to follow. However, things went awry when farmers at the Singhu border managed to break the barricade around 8:30am, well before noon, which was the time allotted for the tractor rally. The protestors broke barricades and were met with tear gas and water cannons used by the police. Initially, the farm union leaders had agreed to begin the parade only at 12 noon, after the official Republic Day parade at Rajpath was over.
Multiple rounds of negotiations between the government and the farmers’ unions have failed. In the Centre’s most recent proposition, the farmers have also rejected the government’s offer to suspend the laws for 18 months. The farmers fear the laws will take away their land and livelihood. They still defend the traditional system of government-controlled market for their produce, sold through a commission agent. The farmers believe that these laws have been imposed on them, while they deserve a right to consent to them.
While the union leaders have cautioned the farmers against breaking their agreement with the police, the size of the protestors is swelling up and the farmers have openly announced that they are willing to continue for years if that's what it takes.