Tractors rumble across the South in solidarity

Farmers hold protest demonstrations in Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana demanding full repeal of contentious laws.

January 27, 2021 05:43 am | Updated 05:43 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/ KHAMMAM/ BENGALURU

ANDHRA PRADESH, VIJAYAWADA, 26-01-2021: Farmers taking out a tractor rally in Vijayawada on Tuesday extending support to the agitating farmers in Delhi. Photo: GIRI KVS/ The Hindu

ANDHRA PRADESH, VIJAYAWADA, 26-01-2021: Farmers taking out a tractor rally in Vijayawada on Tuesday extending support to the agitating farmers in Delhi. Photo: GIRI KVS/ The Hindu

Tractors rumbled across Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and parts of Tamil Nadu and protests were held on Tuesday in solidarity with the agitating farmers in Delhi.

In Kerala, Left organisations organised rallies with tractors and farm implements reiterating the demand for repeal of the farm laws.

A. Vijayaraghavan, convener, Left Democratic Front (LDF), who inaugurated a public meeting at the Martyrs Column in Thiruvananthapuram, urged the farmers not to back down until the “black laws” were repealed.

“Initially the BJP government tried to silence the farmers. When that failed, the government is now trying to use force,” he said. The Modi government misused Parliament to enact the laws and trample on farmers’ rights. The laws were intended to uproot the farmers from the soil, he said.

Protest rallies were organised in all panchayats, municipalities and corporations in Kerala, Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi chairman, Sathyan Mokeri, said. Farmers were protesting since November 26 to prevent a corporate invasion of the nation’s farm sector, but the Modi government had done next to nothing to resolve the issue, he said at a public meeting.

“The protesting farmers have not raised any new demands. They want the minimum support price and the mandi system to be retained. Even wealthy farmers have realised that corporates are the common enemy,” Mr. Mokeri said.

Police action slammed

At Khammam in Telangana, Left party cadres, the Congress and several farmers’ organisations took out a bike rally on Tuesday.

Addressing a meeting at the Pavilion grounds, the leaders of the Rythu Sanghams condemned the alleged caning of farmers by the police in Delhi. They demanded that the Centre entirely scrap the three farm laws without further delay.

Thousands of farmers across Karnataka protested the farm laws at parallel Republic Day parades — in some cases with their tractors. They called the occasion ‘Jana Ganarajya Divasa’, along the lines of the rally in New Delhi. Protests were held in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Belagavi, Hubballi-Dharwad and Kalaburagi.

Police had set up hurdles for tractor rallies in most cities, especially in Bengaluru and adjoining Chikkaballapur, Kolar and Ramanagaram districts. The police stopped tractors as they moved towards Bengaluru, leading to altercations and sit-in protests.

Leaders alleged that the police had visited houses of farmers in Anekal and Doddaballapura, on the city’s outskirts, warning them not to join the protest with their tractors. Police allowed less than a hundred tractors into Bengaluru.

Farmers held a symbolic tractor parade, entering the city through five entry points and congregating at Freedom Park in Bengaluru.

Farmer leader Kodihalli Chandrashekar addressed a meeting at Freedom Park. Terming the protests across the country, especially in Delhi, historic and a clear message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said. “The violent turn the protest took is regrettable. But this is what happens when you test the patience of a community beyond limits. This country has fought hard to come out of the clutches of the East India Company, but now the Prime Minister seems keen to hand over the country to Ambani and Adani.”

Opposing the recent stringent norms on cow slaughter, he said, “People from Basavanagudi and Jayanagar need not teach us about cows. We worship them, but a complete ban on their slaughter would be a burden on farmers.”

Another farmer leader Chamarasa Malipatil described the farmers’ movement as a “second freedom movement”.

Centenarian freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy, who presided over the rally at Freedom Park, said the farmers’ movement and the recent anti-CAA-NRC protests had instilled hope in him for the country.

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