Even though the Delhi Police has approved the tractor rally scheduled in the capital for 26 January to protest the three new farm laws, the Uttar Pradesh Police appears to be deterring the state’s residents from participating in it. Markande Singh, the president of the Ghazipur Petroleum Dealers Association, told me that the state police issued them notices to not give diesel to tractors. On 24 January, The Hindu reported on legal notices sent to tractor owners asking them to not run their vehicles on the road till Republic Day. Shailesh Kumar Singh, the station house officer of Nonhara Police Station in Ghazipur, told me on 25 January that he has been making farmers’ leaders sign notices “so that they do not participate in the 26 January rally.” Two farmers’ leaders from the All India Kisan Sabha, the Communist Party of India’s peasant wing, told me that the SHO made them sign notices without letting them read it.
On the morning of 24 January, several news portals reported that Omprakash Singh, Ghazipur’s superintendent of police, said that there is no decree restraining petrol pump owners from giving fuel to tractors. The Ghazipur Police also tweeted that the direction had been issued by mistake by the Suhwa police station in the district, but it was subsequently withdrawn. The matter would be investigated further, it said. But Ramesh Kumar, a journalist based in Manihari village in Ghazipur, said, “This has not just happened in one station, it has happened in so many places. So how are the police in-charges doing this without his permission? The administration wants to stop all the people who are active in this protest.”
Markande, who owns a petrol pump near Ghazipur district’s Khalispur village, told me that the Nandganj Police Station sent him a notice to not give diesel to tractors at 4 pm on 23 January. Markande sent me the notice: it did not name who it was issued for but mentioned that it was issued by Rakesh Kumar Singh, the SHO of Nandgang Police Station. Rakesh denied issuing such a notice. But Markande told me, “The police is still going to villages and asking people to not give diesel to tractors.” He also shared a notice with me which was issued to another person, asking to not ply their tractor between 22 January and 26 January.
Pranjal Yadav, a student of law at Delhi University, who is currently living in the Bhatoli village, told me his family was suffering because they have been unable to use their tractor. While his father, who is a farmer, has not been issued such a notice, Pranjal said that the direction of not plying tractors till 26 January “was being applied to the whole district.” Pranjal told me he went to get diesel for the tractor once, but the petrol pump refused. “That aside, we cannot bring the tractor out of our house for three days—they are immediately imposing fines and handing you a notice,” he said. According to him, police vehicles that arrive after dialling 112—the state’s emergency number—are visible around his village. “It’s just about the farmers’ movement,” he said. “The government is trying to suppress it in every possible way.”
“The tractor at my place is used not just on farms, but also to carry bricks,” Pranjal said. “We cannot take our tractor out of our home. All work that has to be done with tractors on farms has been stopped. Irrigation or any material that has to be carried to the city—none of that work can be done.” He added, “The government’s intention in this movement has never been right. Now, I feel that it does not even want to solve the farmers’ problem.”
Two farmers’ leaders from the AIKS told me that officials from the Nonhara Police Station came to their house and made them sign some notices. One of them was Rajendra Yadav, a former member of legislative assembly of Ghazipur from the Communist Party of India and the state secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha. He told me that on the evening of 23 January, seven or eight officials from the station including the SHO had come to his house. “They got a notice signed from me and then took it back,” he said, before adding that they did not let him read the notice.