A protester has died near Delhi’s ITO at the Republic Day Tractor Rally on Tuesday. Protesting farmers however claim that the farmer was allegedly killed after being shot at by the Delhi Police.
The deceased who has been identified as Navneet Singh is from Bajpur, Uttarakhand. Singh’s body was found crushed under a tractor. Later, the farmers present there kept the body wrapped in a national flag at the ITO intersection. They alleged that the tractor was overturned after police fired at it.
While farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the two-month protest at the national capital’s border points to demand a repeal of the farm laws, disowned the protesters, one young man was seen hoisting a yellow triangular flag at the flagpole the centrepiece of the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
The protesters were later removed from the premises of the Red Fort.
In unprecedented scenes, protesters entered the complex of the Mughal era monument and attempted to climb the domes and the ramparts, some clambering up the flagpole to hoist a flag from the same place the prime minister unfurls the tricolour from on Independence Day.
Tension spiralled as the crowds swelled. Pushed back by the police from ITO, some protesting farmers drove their tractors to Red Fort complex. Uniformed security personnel could be seen looking on as people gathered in larger numbers.
Though there were no immediate reports of injuries, ambulances could be seen entering the Red Fort complex. There was a mild lathi-charge with police removing protesting farmers from the Red Fort.
The tension was mirrored elsewhere in the city too.
Police baton-charged farmers at Chintamani Chowk in Shahdara when they broke barricades and smashed window panes of cars. A group of ‘Nihangs’ (traditional Sikh warriors) clashed with security personnel near Akshardham Temple. And at Nangloi Chowk in west Delhi and at Mukarba Chowk farmers broke cemented barricades and police used tear gas to disperse them.
As chaos reigned with flashpoints aplenty, farm union leaders distanced themselves from what was going on.
“We condemn violence against farmers, appeal to all to maintain peace,” Balbir Singh Rajewal, one of the leaders, told PTI. He added that no one from the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 unions, went to Outer Ring Road.
Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav also said he was appealing with folded hands for peace. Today is Republic Day, he said.The Other Republic: Watch shocking footage of farmer rally from Delhi
A member of the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 unions, leading the protest against the three central farm laws at several border points of Delhi, said those who broke the barricades at Tikri border points belonged to the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee.
He said the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha’s tractor parade would start as scheduled after police give farmers way. The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee on Monday announced that they would hold their march on Delhi’s busy Outer Ring Road on Republic Day.
The day began on a celebratory note with farmers chanting ‘rang de basanti’ and ‘jai jawan jai kisan’ crossing the national border on tractors, motorbikes, horses and even cranes for their proposed parade.
Locals stood on both sides of the roads at various locations showering flower petals on the farmers amid drum beats.
Standing atop vehicles decked up with flags, protesters could be seen dancing to the tune of patriotic songs. But the mood changed soon after.
Delhi Police appealed to protesting farmers to not take law into their hands and maintain peace as the violence broke out.
The police also asked the farmers to head back to their pre-decided routes for the tractor parade.
Eclipsing the annual show of military might at Rajpath, the farmers who were supposed to take out a tractor parade on pre-decided routes after the Republic Day event was over breached both conditions. Clashes and lathi-charges broke out in many places between a section of the protesters, many of them young, vocal and aggressive, and police personnel.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since November 28, demanding a complete repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.
(With inputs from PTI)