- Till now, 22 cases have been filed on farmer union leaders, 300 policemen injured
- Hotspots of violence – ITO, Red Fort, Mukarba Chowk, Ghazipur, Seemapuri, Nangloi, Tikri border
- SKM leaders claim anti-social elements infiltrated the peaceful protest
TAD NewsDesk, New Delhi: On the Republic Day, large-scale violent clashes broke out between the Delhi police forces and the protesting farmers as the tractor parade progressed. As per the police, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha had given undertakings to the Delhi Police after several rounds of talks between the two parties that the tractor rally would be peaceful in nature.
Around 8.30 AM, over six thousand tractors assembled at the Singhu border who expressed their wish to move to Central Delhi. Faced with suppression by the Delhi police and their barricades, the farmers charged ahead led by Nihangs on horses, carrying their kirpans and broke several layers of barricades between Mukarba Chowk and Transport Nagar.
Another group of farmers coming from Ghazipur and Singhu borders moved towards New Delhi area from ITO. On being stopped by the police, the farmers overcame barricades, grills and dividers in their pursuit to reach New Delhi.
The Delhi Police has alleged that the Republic Day violence broke out majorly in ITO, Red Fort, Mukarba Chowk, Ghazipur, Seemapuri, Nangloi and Tikri border.
Further, a more aggressive group of young farmers entered the Red Fort which climbed the ramparts and hoisted a religious flag on a mast, alongside the national flag. Eventually, the group was dispersed from the fort. However, the police started registering cases against the farmers for violation of lawful directions, rioting, damage to public property and assault on public servants.
On the other hand, the farmers have a different story to tell. The farmers who had organized the Republic Day tractor rally claimed that it was held to send out a strong message to the government. Alleging that the police had handled the situation poorly, farmers said that the police had allowed some tractors to pass and stopped other ones at several stops infuriating the farmers and creating unrest.
A group from Uttarakhand which was moving towards central Delhi through an unsanctioned explained that they were only following the tractors in front that had demolished barricades and were unclear about the route assigned to farmers.
“Whatever violence happened was because of the police lathi charge and attempts to push us back,” said Gurmeet Singh, the oldest among the Uttarakhand farmers.
Moreover, the farmers have alleged brutal suppression of the protesters by the Delhi Police which was way more violent than the farmers who only broke inanimate objects such as barricades. The farmer leaders have claimed that there was no intention of being violent towards the police forced and they were only provoked by the farmers who were only trying to have their frustration and grievance with the farm bills felt by the government.
“Shouldn’t the nation know an abnormally high number of people are distressed by these laws and the tractors have come to Delhi’s borders from remote corners of India? Those who feel outraged today couldn’t feel the pain of these people who have been protesting for months, sitting on the roads for 60 days? Has the Prime Minister uttered a word on the death of 162 farmers so far?”, said an agitated Ashish Mittal, general secretary of the All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha.
According to a Telegraph report, on being asked about the law and order situation that could have arisen with so many tractors arriving in New Delhi, he further questioned,
“Why were the police determined to ensure that the farmers do not enter Delhi? There was no consultation with the majority of the unions while deciding the route, which largely remained on the outskirts of Delhi. This was a huge disrespect to the farmers who had promised not to disturb the official Republic Day Parade. Does the national capital not belong to farmers? Are corporate people ever stopped from coming to Delhi?”
Addressing the allegations of violence on the part of farmers, the farmer leader said,
“If the farmers had any ulterior motive, why did they return after the rally? Clearing up barricades is violence and firing tear gas canisters and resorting to a lathicharge is not? We saw the police breaking glasses of cars and buses themselves. They threw barricades on farmers who had fallen. While two farmers have died, several of us are injured. It is unthinkable that a government doesn’t allow farmers to enter Delhi for two months and when they want to register a symbolic protest inside Delhi on Republic Day, the police force is unleashed to block them. The media abusing us for violence should introspect about the essence of democracy.”
Meanwhile, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha has denied allegations of violence levelled on farmers and clarified that only a few anti-social elements infiltrated their peaceful movement.
The statement of the SKM read,
“Despite all our efforts, some organisations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts. Anti-social elements had infiltrated the otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength and that any violation would hurt the movement. The long struggle for more than 6 months now, and more than 60 days of protest at Delhi borders also seemed to have led to this situation. We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline”.
So far, 22 FIRs have been filed on the leaders of the farmer unions, as reportedly 300 policemen got injured during the clashes. In addition to that, the police have also alleged that 8 buses and 17 private vehicles had been vandalised by the protesters.
Source – Business Today