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Republic Day: Farmers historic tractor rally witnesses clashes, a farmer killed

Video inside: Internet services were cut off at national capital on Republic Day, as farmers’ tractor rally lost its balance amid allegations of anti-socials attempting to hijack the historic protest

New Delhi: On the 72nd Republic Day celebration, the public of the Republic was on the street. Be it scrubby, gruff farmers or their daughters, wives, sons and brothers, all were all atop tractors heading towards Delhi for the proposed tractor parade.

The mood was light, the farmers were chirpy, as music blared while they headed towards Delhi via pre-decided routes from Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders. The mood was celebratory, farmers chanting “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” and dancing to songs like “Aisa desh hai mera” and Sare Jahan se Achcha.

But as the farmers entered the outer ring road from Ghazipur border, clashes erupted between them and police. Tear gas was fired by the police to stop them from going ahead as the peasants took on a different route from the one which was permitted to them. Scuffle broke between some farmers and policemen during which some farmers got injured.

Anguish over tear gas shelling

Speaking to eNewsroom, some farmers reacted sharply over police action.

“Is this tricolor Pakistani flag? Are we terrorists? So, this police shelling tear gas at us,” a farmer asked while showing tricolor on his tractor.

Showing a head injury of a farmer colleague, a farmer said, “Police have shelled tear gas at us while we were coming peacefully from Ghazipur border. What else we can expect from this government?”

farmers tractor rally republic day parade protest kisan
Shelling of tear gas on farmers by police near ITO

Women farmers were also accompanied with male farmers. Women like Sarbjeet Kaur from Uttarakhand, who were accompanying their Male counterparts reacted, “We have come here for our rights and put forward our before the government – withdraw the black laws. But look, instead of listening to us, we were welcomed with tear gas.”

Shilpi Arora while driving her tractor said, “Now Modi government should listen our demands – repeal the farm laws.”

Sarvesh, a farmer from Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut said, “If the modi government doesn’t withdraw the law, then we will also continue to protesting.”

Chaos at ITO

As the protesting farmers atop horses, tractors and onfoot marched towards ITO, Delhi Police tried to contain them there, so that they couldnt reach the RED fort.

During the clash that took place near Delhi’s ITO, saw some farmers take a detour Deen Dayal Upadhyaya road to reach Red Fort. The move turned futile as one of the farmers got killed barely 500 metres away from the BJP headquarters along the same street. While the police claimed that the farmer Navneet Singh (25) died after he lost control of the tractor that overturned on him, however the farmers maintained that Singh lost control of his tractor after he was shot at.

The angry farmers took his body wrapped in tricolour and kept it near ITO flyover. Fearing that the doctors would “change the autopsy reports” the farmers were not willing to let the ambulance take away the dead body.

 “This incident happened in front of me. First police opened up fire on his tractor’s tire then on his head. His tractor overturned and he succumbed to death,” a farmer Harpreet Singh told eNewsroom.

“Delhi police didn’t even respect tricolor on Republic day. They open tear gas at us,” he anguished while complaining about police action.

Another angry farmer said, “This is dictatorship.”

farmers tractor rally republic day parade protest kisan
Farmers tractor parade at ITO

 As the angry protesters swelled on the streets, police took refuge of batons and tear gas to stop the farmers. Meanwhile thousands of farmers atop on their tractors managed to reach Red fort to hoist national flag. 

The clash that followed saw the protesters breaking barriers and climbing poles to enter the Red Fort to hoist the Indian tricolour. The chaos that followed marred the celebratory mood of Republic Day.

Though, Delhi police claimed that protestors turned violent.

“Protesters turned violent at some places. Many police personnel were injured & public properties also damaged. I appeal to protesters to return through the designated routes & maintain peace”, Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal quoted as saying by ANI. 

Anti-social elements create chaos

Samyukta Kisan Morcha spearheading the movement for two months disassociated itself from that chaos the ensued and alleged that the peaceful farmers’ demonstration had been infiltrated by anti-social elements. In a press statement issued by them, Morcha said, “We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline. We appeal strongly to everyone to stick to the route and norms of the Parade, and not indulge in any violent action or anything that taints national symbols and dignity. We appeal to everyone to desist from any such acts.”

However, that didn’t deter the farmers, who been campaigning for months at Delhi borders, from making themselves heard. The farmers even now are firm on the complete withdrawal of the three Farm laws. Around eleven talks between the farm unions and cabinet ministers of Modi government took place, but fail to come to any conclusion.

Farmers are protesting against the centre’s three new contentious farm laws, which they believe will allow for the corporate takeover of farming and hurt their incomes. Eleven rounds of talks between the centre and farmers’ unions have failed so far, with the protesters insisting on a complete repeal of the laws rather than the ‘1.5-year stay’ offered by the government.

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