Thousands of farmers will drive tractors to New Delhi on January 26 when PM Narendra Modi will join a parade of military forces.
Police in India's capital New Delhi will allow thousands of protesting farmers to drive through the city after this week's Republic Day military parade, despite security concerns, a senior official has said.
Senior police officer Dependra Pathak said on Sunday the city police will allow at least 12,000 tractors on Delhi's roads to move over a 100 km stretch away from the centre on January 26 after the military parade.
"This will be a very challenging task but we decided upon it so that there is a peaceful and disciplined solution," he told a news conference.
Farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the national capital for around two months in protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial farm laws which they say will hurt their livelihoods and help big companies.
To up the ante, farmers wanted to drive tractors to the centre of New Delhi on January 26, the Republic Day national holiday when Modi will join a parade of military forces in the capital.
The police statement concerning farmers comes after India's Supreme Court declined a government petition to ban the rally.
Security arrangements were being made to allow tractors through certain designated entry and exit points on the day, Pathak said, adding that intelligence inputs indicate some people may try to disrupt a peaceful rally by the farmers.
Talks reach stalemate
Modi government, which says the agriculture reforms will boost farmer incomes, has agreed to suspend the laws, but the farmers have said New Delhi must repeal them.
Talks between farmers and Modi's government have so far failed to break the deadlock, landing Modi with one of his most significant challenges since he was re-elected in 2019.
Talks between leaders of protesting farmers and the Indian government ended abruptly in a stalemate on Friday when the agriculture minister said he had nothing more to offer than an 18-month suspension of contentious agricultural reform laws.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked the farmers to reconsider their rejection of a government offer two days ago to set up a committee to look into their concerns about the laws, which have triggered the biggest farmers’ protests in years.
The farmers’ organisations announced on Thursday that they would not accept anything other than the repeal of the three laws.
No date was set for another round of talks between the government and protest leaders. Tomar told reporters that he is ready to meet again if they decide to accept the government proposal.
Months of protests
Shiv Kumar Kakkar, a farmer leader, complained that police have been issuing threats to the farmers to call off their protest.
Farmers say the legislation passed by Parliament in September will lead to the cartelisation and commercialisation of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their earnings.
The government insists the laws will benefit farmers and boost production through private investment. It has repeatedly ruled out withdrawing the legislation but says it could make some amendments.