- Farmers have planned a massive tractor rally in Delhi on January 26
- More than a thousand tractors will take part in the rally
- Farmers say the rally would not interfere with the parade held on Rajpath
Farmers protesting against the Centre's contentious farm laws have sought written permission from the Delhi Police for the massive tractor rally they are planning on Republic Day, sources said. More than a thousand tractors from across Punjab and Haryana will take part in the rally, which will be held on Ring Road, which encircles the city. The farmers have said that it would not interfere with the huge prestigious parade held on Rajpath. The police will take a call on the matter after a meeting today, sources said..
On Saturday, the farmers claimed they have received police permission for the rally, which was contradicted by the police soon after. "Farmers have not given us any route in writing. We will let you know once we receive a route in written," Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava had told NDTV.
The government has been against the rally on the Republic Day, saying it would be an "embarrassment for the nation" because of the timing. It had also approached the Supreme Court, asking it to put a stop to the rally.
The top court, however, has left the decision to the Delhi Police, saying it was a matter of "law and order".
Turning down the Centre's contention that it was an "extraordinary situation", the court said, "Does the Supreme Court say as to what are the powers of police and how they will exercise them? We are not going to tell you what to do".
The court had earlier upheld the farmers' constitutional right to hold a peaceful protest.
"We make it clear that we recognise the fundamental right to protest against a law. There is no question of balancing or curtailing it. But it should not damage anyone's life or property," Chief Justice SA Bobde had said at a hearing in December.
The farmers have turned down the government's proposal of keeping the laws on hold for 18 months while its special committee continues negotiations. They have also rejected the committee named by the Supreme Court, saying all its members are pro-government. One of the committee members have already resigned.
The farmers are holding out for a complete repeal of the laws, which they say will shrink their income and leave them at the mercy of corporates. They also want a legal guarantee about the continuation of the Minimum Support Price, which they fear will be discontinued after a point.
The government has made it clear that it would not repeal the laws. It has also promised only a written guarantee for the support prices it offers the farmers. The Centre has said the three laws are a major reform in the farm sector and will help farmers increase their income by allowing them to sell at competitive prices to corporates and removing middlemen.