Won’t Call Off Tractor Rally On Republic Day, Say Protesting Farmers

The protesting farmers refused to call off their Republic Day tractor rally today, and said the probe by the National Investigation Agency is meant to break their big protest. Today, as the agency summoned 40 people — Including farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa — for questioning in a case related to the banned outfit Sikhs For Justice, farmers alleged that the government has resorted to “atrocities”.  The government is opposing the tractor rally legally — the matter will be heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow. “Action is being taken against those who cooperate in the movement,” alleged a farmer leader. “We condemn the action the NIA is taking, we will fight against it legally, not only in the court. The government’s attitude is oppressive,” he added. In a tweet, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal called it an attempt to intimidate the farmers. “Strongly condemn Centre’s attempts to intimidate farmer leaders & supporters of KisanAndolan by calling them for questioning by NIA & ED. They aren’t anti-nationals. And after failure of talks for the 9th time, it’s absolutely clear that GOI is only trying to tire out farmers,” his tweet read. The government has challenged the farmers’ plans to hold the rally on Republic Day in the Supreme Court, saying it will be an “embarrassment to the nation”. The farmers said their rally — in which 1000 tractors will participate — will be peaceful and won’t interrupt the day’s big parade at Rajpath. “We will not interrupt the parade on Republic Day,” a farmer leader told the media at Delhi’s Singhu border. The 50-km parade, they said, will be held in the Outer Ring Road, the road encircling the city. “We hope the Delhi and Haryana Police will cooperate in this. This parade will be peaceful,” the leader said. The farmers planed the tractor rally as repeated talks with the government failed to resolve the deadlock over the laws, which they say will shrink their income and place them at the mercy of big corporates. The government has refused to repeal the laws, which have been flagged as its big ticket reforms in the farm sector. Last week, the Supreme Court put the laws on hold and formed a committee to discuss the issue with all sides and give a report within two months. The farmers, however, have rejected the panel, saying all the members are pro-government.

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