FARMERS’ TRACTOR RALLY: A GUIDE

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Farmers’ Tractor Rally, New Delhi: Thousands of angry farmers protesting against the framer bill and camping since the last two months decided to enter Delhi on 26th January. This Republic Day tractor march was to reassert farmers’ demand for the repeal of the three contentious farm laws. However, the march took a terrifying turn when the protestors decided to deviate from the route agreed a day before.

The protestors then marched inside the Red Fort and the mayhem that followed is still vividly fresh in the minds of the nation.

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The peaceful protest took a serious turn and glimpses of violence and chaos were recorded all over the National Capital. While the Police tried to control the protestors turned rioters via tear gas shells and batons, however, the sheer numbers of the protestors meant that the Police forces were virtually helpless. Delhi Police reported that 394 personnel were injured. A report in News18 quoted seven farmer organizations to claim over 1,000 people sustained injuries while one person lost his life after sustaining serious injuries after he collided with a barricade in his tractor – trying to break the same – at high speed.

WHAT DO FARMERS WANT?

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Farmers who were part of the agitation wanted the government to scrap the new Farmer Laws calling them ‘anti-farmer’. The government on the other hand has refused to roll back the laws. The pro-reform laws, farmers say, will hurt their livelihoods and would eventually benefit private players.

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Instead, The government has offered to hold the implementation of the three contentious laws for 18 months; the farmer leaders have rejected the offer. The government asked the farmers to reconsider the offer which Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, said, is the “best offer”.

CALM BEFORE THE CHAOS

Before the chaos started, people in some parts of Delhi were spotted showering flower petals on the farmer’s tractors showing the farmers their full support. The farmers were welcomed by the local people with different posters and placards.

According to ANI, Locals near Ghazipur Border point were seen showering petals as the farmers’ tractors starting rolling inside Delhi.

At Mundka, some residents lined up along the highway, waving to the farmers and scattering flowers on the road to welcome them. Local bands and drummers, too, could be seen at some places as part of the welcoming party. Similar scenes could be witnessed on the Delhi-Karnal bypass near the border, too, reported NDTV

The Singhu border point witnessed groups of farmers themselves setting off the rally with flower carpets and showers.

VIOLENCE THAT ENGULFED THE FARMERS’ TRACTOR RALLY?

Amid celebrations for the 72nd Republic Day, the farmers were allowed to hold their rally after the Republic Day Parade. The farmers have been protesting at various border points near Delhi for more than two months. However, some groups stated their march before the agreed time and refused to stick to the defined route. This resulted in them clashing with the police. After the initial lot, a great number of farmers started to follow this initial route.

Many farmers entered the national capital via tractors and by foot knocked down police barricades even amid a huge police presence, making way for the tractor rally. Protestors clashed with police in ITO and other parts of the National Capital.

Farmers drive into Delhi on tractors, rally marred by violence, protest reaches Red Fort: 10 developments - India News
Agitators break barricades and roadblocks by force, with the help of tractors. (Source: Indian Today)

“Nobody followed the terms of the agreement. They (the farmers) took advantage of their large numbers and stormed into the city. At Ghazipur, they started driving before the agreed-upon time and broke barricades while it was decided in the meeting that police would escort them. At Singhu, the protesters started a little before 11 and were peaceful initially. They had to turn back at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, about 15km from Singhu but refused and insisted on marching. Later they took over both carriageways,” said a senior police officer.

The chaos turned wild resulting in a traffic jam for hours on key connecting road circuits including the National Highway 24 and 29, the Barapulah and DND flyovers, Vikas Marg, Delhi Gate, and the road leading to Anand Vihar ISBT.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation closed off the entry and exit points of at least 20 stations but the situation gradually returned to normal by the late evening.

Agencies received intel alert on Red Fort violence - Rediff.com India News
Rioters raise the Nishan Sahib along with the flag of BKU (Bharatiya Kisan Union). (Source: PTI)

In the most shocking turn of events, this rouge mob then stormed the Red Fort and besieged it. This was followed by appalling events when various miscreants climbed upon the ramparts of the Red Fort and unfurled a religious flag on the flagstaff reserved for the national flag. This was followed by several other flags planted on various canopies as well as other flags right below the permanently placed nation flag at the Red Fort. A host of political leaders like Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, etc. condemned the act and requested the agitators to stop the violence. Various policemen on duty at the Red Fort alleged that they had seen flags of terrorist organisations like Babbar Khalsa, Khalistan Liberation Force, etc. and saw images of terrorist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale with the rioters; these claims, however, haven’t been confirmed yet. Further reports showed that around 200 artists, including children, had to be rescued from the Red Fort complex. These artists – most of them hailing from Odisha –  were associated with the Republic Day celebrations and had been stranded for more than five hours.

As the violence ensued, many agitators were seen carrying weapons like swords and batons – the police later stated that farmer leaders had assured that no weapons would be carried by the protestors – while some weapons of the police were also looted. Disturbing visuals of the violence and riot caused by the protestors filled up the news world; in addition to this life-threatening attacks on policemen at various places also went viral. Policemen were seen jumping into the Red Fort ditch to save their lives while some protesting farmers themselves were seen trying to save policemen from the vicious attacks by their fellow protestors.

Red Fort violence: Delhi police detain 200 after farmer protests - BBC News
Protestors carrying weapons in the Red Fort compound. (Source: Reuters)

By the end of the day, the farmers started returning to the border, 86 policemen and at least 10 farmers were injured; these number increased after reports started flowing in. One farmer was reported dead after the tractor he was driving overturned. By late evening, around 7:30 pm, the situation had reached normalcy and regular traffic had resumed.

WHAT DID THE POLICE DO?

The Delhi Police registered 22 FIRs so far in connection with the violence that broke out during the farmers’ tractor parade in the national capital leaving. In a statement, Police said that protesting farmers violated the pre-decided conditions agreed upon for their tractor parade. “The farmers began tractor rally before the scheduled time. They also resorted to violence and vandalism,” Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said.

“We followed all conditions as promised and did our due diligence but the protest led to extensive damage to public property,” he said.

Senior officer, Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of the Delhi Police told a news agency that police would take action against those who assaulted police personnel and damaged property, reported HT.

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Renu Thapa
Renu is currently majoring in English at Gargi College, Delhi University. Apart from her writing habit, she is also very vocal about her opinions and encourages girls to speak up. Renu is also a sucker for naruto and friends.

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