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Police to Decide on Farmers Entering Delhi, Says SC on R-Day Tractor Rally, Next Hearing on Wednesday

Farmers on tractors shout slogans as they arrive to block the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border during a protest against farm bills passed by India's parliament, in Noida, India, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Farmers on tractors shout slogans as they arrive to block the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border during a protest against farm bills passed by India's parliament, in Noida, India, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The matter has been adjourned till Wednesday.

The Supreme Court said on Monday the entry of protesting farmers into Delhi on Republic Day has to be decided by the Delhi Police due to it being a "law and order issue".

The apex court was hearing a plea seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor rally on January 26. "We said this last time that entry to Delhi has to be seen under Delhi police. Who should not be allowed and the number of people who can enter are all matters of law and order to be dealt with the by the police," the top court said.

"We have indicated to the Attorney General and Solicitor General that it's totally up to the police to decide who should enter and who should not. Does the Union of Indian want police to be told that they have powers under the police act?," said the bench, after the AG sought an adverse order against the tractor rally.

The matter has been adjourned till Wednesday.

In an application filed through the Delhi police, the Centre told the court that any planned rally or demonstration that aimed to interrupt and disrupt the festivities of Republic Day would cause the nation to be "embarrassed".

After the hearing, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the reforms brought in by Prime Minister Narendra Modi were "courageous" and would benefit farmers.

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Agitating farmer unions have remained firm on holding a tractor rally on the Republic Day and vowed to continue their stir till the Centre's farm laws are repealed. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday urged them to discuss alternatives to scrapping the legislation at the next meeting scheduled for January 19.

However, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait told reporters in Nagpur that the farmer groups were prepared to sit in protest till May 2024. "Our demand is that the three laws be taken back and the government provide a legal guarantee on the MSP," he said.

In an application filed through the Delhi police, the Centre told the court that any planned rally or demonstration that aimed to interrupt and disrupt the festivities of Republic Day would cause the nation to be "embarrassed".

Meanwhile, union leader Yogendra Yadav said at a press conference at the Singhu border protest site that the agitating groups will carry out a tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day. "The parade will be very peaceful. There will be no disruption of the Republic Day parade. The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors," he added.

But Tomar stressed that the farmer unions should give up their "stubborn stand" after the apex court's stay on the laws on January 12. "They should come for a clause by clause discussion on Tuesday. Except for the demand of repealing the laws, the government is ready to consider seriously and with an open heart other alternatives," he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had too reached out, saying the Narendra Modi government was dedicated to farmers and the three farm laws would ensure a manifold hike in farmers' earnings. "Since coming to power, the Modi government had increased the budget for the farm sector and also the minimum support price (MSP) for various crops," he said at an event in Bagalkote district in Karnataka.

"I want to say that if there is any big priority of the Narendra Modi government it is to double the farmers' income," he said.

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