Thousands of tractors to join Indian farmers’ rally against agrarian reforms
New Delhi, Jan 25 (efe-epa).- Thousands of tractors are set to queue up on Tuesday on roads of the Indian capital as part of a show of force by farmers’ groups protesting against three “anti-farmer” laws liberalizing the agrarian sector, a stir which will coincide with the official Republic Day celebrations.
The march will cover around 100 kilometers of distance on different roads in the capital and is expected to be attended by “more than 250,000 tractors and vehicles and more than one million farmers,” claimed Avik Saha, secretary of the All India Farmers’ Struggle Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
“We are imagining this to be the largest farmer rally ever in the country,” Saha told EFE.
The protest, which has been authorized by the police in New Delhi on the condition that it will be carried out after Tuesday’s official Republic Day parade, will kick off from the three entry points to the city where the farmers have been camping for more than two months.
On Monday, the organizers of the march circulated a statement urging protesters to show exemplary behavior during the protest so that the “historical” parade is not “stained,” with the whole world’s eyes on the farmers and their demands.
“Our victory lies in the parade being taken out in a very peaceful manner, without any untoward incidents taking place. Remember that our aim is not to conquer Delhi, but to win over the hearts of the people of this country,” the statement insisted.
The main march in Delhi will be supported by thousands of demonstrations across India.
The notable ones include a massive farmers’ march in Mumbai, India’s financial epicenter and capital of the western state of Maharashtra.
The farmers have stepped up pressure against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the revocation of three farm laws that liberalize both sales prices and quantities of certain crops.
The laws seek to open up trade in agriculture to the free market, and allegedly abolish government-mandated minimum selling prices with time, leaving farmers to negotiate prices of their produce with private firms in the distribution chain.
The government – which unsuccessfully proposed an 18-months moratorium on the laws during talks with the farmers – has defended the reforms claiming that they would allow farmers to negotiate on their own terms, but the peasants’ groups have claimed that they will be left helpless and at the mercy of large firms.
After two months of sit-in protests and blockades of various entry points to New Delhi, the AIKSCC secretary said that the situation was becoming “unsustainable” and the government should fulfill their demands.
“We believe that if we are peaceful and patient, the government will give in and accept the demand of repealing the three anti-farmer laws and making a new law for ensuring income guarantee and security for all farmers,” he said. EFE-EPA