Caravan of tractors carrying farmers makes its way into New Delhi ahead of Republic Day
NEW DELHI (INDIA) – Ahead of Republic Day celebrations, tens of thousands of farmers streamed into the Indian capital on tractors, clogging a major artery. They are protesting against agrarian reforms of the federal government.
The nation marks the day it became a republic with a military parade in the city centre. But the farmers, who seek a rollback of the controversial agricultural laws of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are planning a peaceful show of strength.
“We will teach Modi a lesson that he will never forget,” said a protester from Ludhiana in the state of Punjab, who came on his tractor.
As the procession of vehicles rolled by, anti-government songs could be heard from the loudspeakers. As they moved along National Highway 44, the vehicle convoy was accompanied by dozens of community kitchens to provide hot meals and beverages in the cold weather.
For almost two months, farmers hailing from the breadbasket state of Punjab and adjoining Haryana have laid siege to roads leading to the national capital to protest against three new farm laws they believe will scuttle their livelihoods and aid big corporates.
Farmers’ unions are urging the government to repeal the laws.
The several rounds of talks with the government have made little progress and the farmers aim to up the ante with the rally to Delhi to be present there on Republic Day when top leaders and military officials gather to witness the parade.
Police said they would permit at least 12,000 tractors to traverse a 100-km (62-mile) stretch around the capital.