A day after the Supreme Court left it up to the police to decide if protesting farmers could enter Delhi on Republic Day for a tractor rally, farmer leader Dr Darshanpal told NDTV they may not be allowed to use the Outer Ring Road. He added that they have no plan of backing down.
“We met officers of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police today. They sought details about the route we intend to take and the number of protestors expected. The police have said farmers using the Outer Ring Road for tractor rally could lead to inconvenience. They have not said anything about giving us permission,” Dr Dardhanpal said.
However, farmers are yet to seek permission from the Delhi Police.
“The tractor rally will happen as decided,” he added after the meeting at a resort near Singhu Border — the epicenter of farmers’ protests for repeal of three contentious farm laws, talks over which will resume with the government on January 20.
The meeting also comes in the backdrop Home Minister Amit Shah visiting the Delhi Police headquarters today to review security arrangements a week before Republic Day.
Farmers have planned a mega tractor rally on January 26 and target to gather an estimated 1 lakh people to press for their demands, including legal guarantee for MSP. They plan to circle Delhi via the 60-km-long Outer Ring Road.
Their “trail run” on January 7 had drawn 10,000 participants.
Protesting farmer unions, who reacted to the top court’s Monday order saying the rally was their “constitutional right”, have also repeatedly assured protest will be “peaceful”.
“Farmers are not going to hold their rally on Rajpath and in other high-security areas. It will be done on Outer Ring Road,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) Punjab general secretary Paramjit Singh said. Farmers have also assured they will not disrupt any government Republic Day functions.
However, they have maintained the rally “will happen, will happen, will happen” amid stand-off with the centre.
They have also repeatedly sought “cooperation” of Haryana and Delhi police, which lathicharged protestors and used tear gas shells, water cannons, barbed wires and even dug roads to stop them from entering Delhi late in November.
Citing “embarrassment to the nation”, the centre, in an application filed through the Delhi Police, had approached the Supreme Court seeking to stop the farmers.
On Monday, the court refused to intervene saying the Delhi Police is at liberty to invoke all powers under the law and has all the power to deal with law-and-order situations. “We are not going to tell you what to do,” the bench said.
The Delhi Police comes under the Home Ministry.