New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Ahead of the Centre-farmer talks on January 8, the protesters on Thursday held a 'tractor march' along the borders of the national capital amid tight security. Calling it a 'rehearsal' for January 26, the farmers warned the central government that they further intensify their stir if the farm laws are not revoked and assurance on minimum support price (MSP) is given.

"The government has been hosting meeting after meeting. They know what we want. We want the laws to be repealed, but all we get are futile talks. With this rally we want to give them a glimpse of what we can do, and what we will do on January 26," said a farmer leader, as reported by news agency PTI.

"Today the rally is happening on the periphery of Delhi, but when our farmer leaders decide that we need to enter the capital, we will do that," he added.

The tractor march, which comprised both men and women farmers, began from Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders at 11 am and continued till Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways. During the march, the farmers raised slogans against the three farm laws passed by the Parliament last year warned to intensify their protest if their demands are not fulfilled.

Decorating their tractors with tricolours, the farmers even performed stunts, showing their "might and strength". Some farmers even sat on 'langar' in the afternoon during their march.

After the march, the farmers returned to their protest spots and said that more than 3,500 tractor and trolleys had participated in the rally.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police was forced to divert traffic along the borders of the city-state because of the march. "The tractor march passed through the Eastern Peripheral Road and returned through the Expressway," news agency IANS quoted a police official as saying.

'Centre wants to privatise farm sector'

While the farmers held a tractor march on Thursday, the opposition once again accused the government of misleading the farmers and demanded a withdrawal of the agricultural laws. Leading the charge for the opposition was veteran Congress leader Kamal Nath who alleged that the Centre wants to "privatise the farm sector".

"The RSS and Bharatiya Jana Sangh also opposed the nationalisation of banks carried out by former prime minister Indira Gandhi," Nath said at a rally, as reported by PTI.

"The (present) government wants to privatise the farm sector with the three agri-marketing laws," he added.

SC asks Centre whether farmers protesting at Delhi border are protected against COVID-19

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre whether the protesting farmers are "protected" against the spread of COVID-19 and said that the guidelines to contain the virus should be followed.

The apex court was hearing a plea seeking various reliefs including CBI probe into the matter related to assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizammudin Markaz in the national capital after the nationwide lockdown was announced last year to contain the pandemic.

"You must tell us what is happening. The same problem is going to arise in farmers' agitation. I do not know if farmers are protected from COVID. So, the same problem is going to arise. It is not that everything is over," said Chief Justice SA Bobde.

Eighth round of talks on Friday

The eighth round of talks between the central government and the farmer unions will be held on Friday. So far, the two sides have held seven meetings but have failed to end the deadlock.

The farmers want the government to repeal the farm laws and give an assurance on MSP. However, the government has accused the opposition of misleading the farmers and have claimed that the farm laws will only benefit the protesters.

"Prime Minister Modi wants the issue to be resolved soon. We want farmers to come to the discussion table. However, only yes and no can't be the way to resolve this issue. If farmers want amendments in these laws, we are ready for it," said Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary while speaking to news agency ANI.

"I want to reiterate that these three farm laws are revolutionary. Arthiyas have incited the farmers to sit on protest. They have misled them. We have plans to bring in more reforms like pesticide and seed bills. There was a time when farmers used to get bad pesticide and farmer was at a loss of product gets spoiled. We would ensure that farmers won't go through that and will be insured against losses. Modi government is working to make life better for farmers," he added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma