Police responded with tear gases and lathi charge , One protester died on the way, 83 police personnel were injured
Eastern Times New Delhi: Unprecedented chaos was unleashed upon Delhi on the 72nd Republic Day as the tractor rally by protesting farmers went off the designated course and rolled into the Iconic Mughal-era Red Fort in the Old City. A protester died on the way, the police said it was an accident. Delhi Police has said over 83 police personnel were injured during today’s clashes with protesting farmers at different places in the national capital.
The farmers entered the forecourt of the fort, climbed its ramparts, and hoisted a religious flag on a mast outside. The police, wielding batons, managed to remove them from inside the fort. The violence started in the morning as farmers broke barricades and entered Delhi ahead of time.
One of the key farmer groups has called off the tractor rally, accusing anti-social elements of being responsible for the violence.
Union Home minister Amit Shah held a high-level meeting this evening where it was decided to deploy additional paramilitary forces in Delhi. The Home Minister reportedly ordered the police to take strict action against those who violated the parade conditions. Sources say the Delhi Police has compiled statements issued by farmer leaders and those who instigated the violence have been identified.
Punjab and Haryana have been placed under high alert. Cell Phone internet has been suspended in parts of the National Capital Region including Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
The rally was allowed with certain constraints — including the route and time. But one organaisation, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee refused to stick to the designated route. Even the timing was tweaked. By 8 am, thousands entered the national capital on foot. Dramatic visuals showed farmers breaching barriers at the Singhu border, the epicentre of protests against the farm laws that started on November 26.
As Delhi Police appealed to the protesters to maintain calm, violence broke out at central Delhi’s ITO, where the old police headquarters is located. A farmer died as a tractor on way to the Old City overturned, the police said. The farmers started a sit-down protest, refusing to hand over the body for postmortem.
A clip from Akshardham showed policemen on an overbridge, firing tear gas shells on the protesters standing below. A bus was also vandalised.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation shut the gates at several metro stations. The other flashpoint was Nangloi, where the police fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters.Overall, 83 police personnel have been injured in the violence. Visuals from the Red Fort showed farmers hoisting a sacred flag of Sikhs at a second flagpole. Repeated attempts were made to hoist flags on the fort’s domes as well. Thousands of others, waving the national flag, stood at the huge gates of the fort. The police have managed to push out protesters from inside the fort.
But many are still thronging the grounds outside the fort. “We came here to deliver a message to the Modi government, our job is done. We will go back now,” one of the farmers told NDTV at the Red Fort. “We managed to reach the fort even though they tried to stop us.
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We will not stop till we reach our goal — the repeal of the three farm laws,” another farmer said.
A key pan-India farmers’ group, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, has called off the tractor rally with immediate effect, appealing to participants to return to their protest sites outside Delhi borders. The group announced that the movement will “continue peacefully” and further steps will be decided soon.
In a statement, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha said: “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.”
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh condemned the violence and urged all “genuine farmers” to vacate New Delhi and return to the capital’s borders, where they have been camping for over a month now. “Shocking scenes in Delhi.
The violence by some elements is unacceptable. It’ll negate goodwill generated by peacefully protesting farmers. Kisan leaders have disassociated themselves & suspended #TractorRally.
I urge all genuine farmers to vacate Delhi & return to borders,” the Punjab CM tweeted. DMK president M K Stalin said the Centre’s approach on farm laws issue was the reason for violence in Delhi.
He demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold talks with protesting farmers.Senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy on Tuesday said violence cannot solve any problem and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inform the nation about the Centre’s stand on repeal of the three farm bills.NCP Chief Sharad Pawar says: “The way the agitation handled today is regrettable.
We all sitting in Opposition support the farmers’ cause and I appeal — now you (farmers) should go back to your respective villages peacefully and should not give any opportunity to the govt to blame you.”
Farmers were given police permission to hold the rally on the periphery of the city after a court battle. The rally — to be held over 60-odd-km stretches near the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders — was expected to enter the city only after the traditional Republic Day parade ended around 11.30 am.
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The Centre had opposed the rally in the Supreme Court, contending that its timing will make it “an embarrassment to the nation”.
But the court, which earlier upheld the farmers’ right to hold peaceful protests, handed over the matter to the Delhi Police. No breakthrough in the deadlock over the farm laws has been possible despite 11 rounds of talks between the farmers and the government.
The farmers turned down the Centre’s last offer to put the laws on hold for 18 months while a special committee conducts negotiations.