As early as 8 am on Saturday morning, convoys of tractors started rolling across Punjab roads towards Delhi to join the tractor parade on Republic Day. Farmer unions claimed that by Saturday evening, as many as 50,000 tractors had passed through Bathinda-Dabwali, Khanauri-Jind, Sardulgarh-Fatehabad, Moonak-Fatehabad, Shambhu-Ambala and Lalru-Guhla Cheeka borders between Punjab and Haryana. They added that more tractors will cross on Sunday.
Farmers said that they were prepared to face water cannons, teargas shells and had even stocked ready-to-eat items in case of disruption of langar supply.
“We were determined to take out tractor parade with or without permission, but it is good that finally police authorities have allowed it officially. Otherwise, our people are prepared for every eventuality. We have told farmers to keep salt in small packets with them and lick it if they feel that their BP is going down amid heavy rush. We have told them that in case tear gas shells, they should moisten the muslin cloth with them and rub it on their face and eyes. We are soldiers of the guru. We are ready for any eventuality,” said Jagseer Singh Kothaguru, a BKU (Ugrahan) leader.
He added, “Assi faujian di tarah tayari kar ke jaa rahe haan (We are going to be prepared like soldiers).”
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “We have told them to take ready-to-eat items along in case they get stuck in a rush or something happens and they are not even able to cook and langar availability is also not there”.
Balwant Singh Ghudani, a farmer from Ghudani village of Ludhiana, said, “We are taking pinnis, panjiri, meethi and namkeen rotis, methi di rotis, pickle apart from biscuits, rusk. Now, that cops have granted permission, we are sure to do this rally come what may. The number of tractors which have gone to Delhi, it seems that our parade will not end even in four days.”
Tractors of 32 farmer unions of Punjab, BKU (Ugrahan) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee have left for Delhi.
On Friday, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, General Secretary of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha Punjab, had said,”I appeal to all the youngsters of Punjab to start moving from their villages, make sufficient arrangements for their stay at the morcha. Jabar da muqabla sabar naal dena hai. (We have to give answer of atrocities with our patience). It will be our show of strength. Not even a single tractor should remain in Punjab.”
More tractors will be moving on January 24 as well, there will be no tractor parade in any of the Punjab villages on January 26.
Women too are part of these convoys, but only a few will be driving the tractors and the rest will be sitting in trolleys.
“It will be a mix of only tractors, tractor-trolleys, cars, buses in this Kisan Republic day parade, but majority of them will be tractors only,” said Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda and also working committee member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
Tableaus of farmer with a plough, bulls have been made by BKU (Ugrahan) committee with a message on implementation of Swaminathan report. Many other tableaus will be part of this parade.
“I am sure Delhi people and even the whole world will watch our parade, it is for our rights. Teeno kanoon chaknachoor, iss se kam kuchh nahi manzoor,” said Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, General Secretary of Kirti Kisan Union.