Farmers tractor rally: BJP says 'attack on democracy' as protesters hoist flag at Red Fort; Oppn blames Centre

Delhi Police and thousands of protesters clashed at multiple places in the National Capital during the Republic Day tractor rally, leading to unprecedented scenes and the reported death of one protester

FP Staff January 26, 2021 21:42:58 IST
Farmers tractor rally: BJP says 'attack on democracy' as protesters hoist flag at Red Fort; Oppn blames Centre

Farmers break the police barricades at the Ghazipur border as move towards Akshardham during their tractor rally on Republic Day in New Delhi on 26 January. PTI

A massive rally of farmers to the National Capital turned violent on Tuesday, with Delhi Police using tear gas and baton-charging protesters as they broke barricades and entered the city to hold a tractor parade on Republic Day. One protestor reportedly died after he was allegedly shot at while driving his tractor.

On the other hand, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has called off the Republic Day tractor parade with immediate effect. The farmers' union has also appealed to all participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites. "The movement will continue peacefully and further steps will be discussed and decided soon," the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said.

While farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the two-month protest at Delhi'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.

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 deviated from the original path. Clashes and lathi-charges broke out in many places between a section of the protesters, many of them young, vocal and aggressive, and Delhi Police personnel.

The entry and exit gates of more than 10 metro stations in central and north Delhi were temporarily closed as a result of the protest.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since 28 November, demanding a complete repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

After the clashes, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that violence was never the solution to any problem and appealed to the Centre to scrap the three contentious farm laws.

Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, “Violence is not the solution to any problem. If anyone gets hurt, the damage will happen to our country. Take back the anti-farmer law for the benefit of the country.”

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar criticised the government for failing to keep the law and order situation in Delhi under control.

“Nobody will support whatever happened today but the reason behind it cannot be ignored either,” he says while speaking about the violence in several parts of Delhi. “Those sitting calmly grew angry, the Centre didn’t fulfil its responsibility. The government should act maturely and take the right decision.”

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said the violence during the farmers' tractor parade against the new agriculture laws in Delhi is unacceptable and urged the farmers to vacate the National Capital.

He said the violence will negate the goodwill earned by peaceful protesting farmers.

Continuing his attack against the Centre over the new farm laws, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said it has never happened in the history of the country that the farmers had to protest so long to get their demands fulfilled.

He said the Central Government has insulted the farmers and claimed that the process adopted while enacting the fresh legislations was faulty since the beginning. The chief minister also appealed to the protesting farmers to maintain peace and not resort to violence.

"The farmers' movement has been peaceful till now. There is an appeal to the farmers to maintain peace and not to commit violence. Violence has no place in a democracy", he tweeted.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor criticises the protestors for hoisting flags at the Red Fort. “Most unfortunate,” he said in a tweet.

“I have supported the farmers’ protests from the start but I cannot condone lawlessness. And on Republic Day no flag but the sacred Tiranga [national flag] should fly aloft the Red Fort.”

Taking up cudgels on behalf of the farmers, the CPI(M) lashed out at the Centre over the treatment meted out to protesting farmers during their tractor rally and said tear-gassing and lathi charging them is "unacceptable" and asked the Centre to restore the internet facility 'immediately'.

The CPM also criticised the Centre for using tear gas and batons on farmers.

“Tear gassing and lathi-charging farmers is unacceptable,” party’s General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

"Why, after the Delhi Police and Samyukt Kisan Morcha agreement? Why is the government provoking a confrontation? They must allow the peaceful, agreed tractor parade to continue.”

Yechurry in a series of tweets also asked the Centre to repeal the new farm laws "immediately".

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expresses concern over the situation in Delhi. “Centre’s insensitive attitude and indifference towards our farmer brothers and sisters have to be blamed for this situation,” she added.

Senior Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy said violence cannot solve any problem and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inform the nation about the Centre's stand on the repeal of the three farm bills, reports PTI.

He also expressed surprise on Modi's silence over the farmers' stir.

Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Prahlad Patel condemned the actions of a section of farmers who entered the Red Fort as part of their tractor rally and said it violated the symbol of the dignity of India's democracy.

"The Red Fort is a symbol of the dignity of our democracy. The farmers should have stayed away from it. I condemn the violation of this dignity. It is sad and unfortunate," Patel said in a tweet.

Former Union minister and BJP's national spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain called it "an attack on democracy".

Meanwhile, the Karnataka BJP accused the Congress of being behind today's clash. In a tweet, the party said, "Congress activists are rioting in the name of farmers. The master of thieves @RahulGandhi. They are the direct cause of today's disasters."

Holding the Central Government responsible for the violent clashes between protesting farmers and Delhi Police on Tuesday, DMK chief MK Stalin said that the Centre's attitude is the reason that the farmers' protests dragged on for so long and turned violent today. He also appealed to the two sides to look for a peaceful resolution.

The Aam Aadmi Party strongly condemned the violence during the farmers' tractor parade in Delhi on Tuesday, blaming the Centre for allowing the situation to deteriorate to such an extent, reports PTI

In a statement, the AAP said the violence had "certainly weakened" the movement, which was going on peacefully and a disciplined manner.

"We strongly condemn the violence seen in today's protest. It is regrettable that the Central Government allowed the situation to deteriorate to such an extent. The movement has been peaceful for the last two months," it said.

"Farmer leaders have said that those who indulged in violence today were not part of the movement and were external elements. Whoever they were, the violence has certainly weakened the movement which was going on so peacefully and in a disciplined manner," it said.

Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “Disturbing images of protest going out of control at the Red Fort. Tricolour disrespect is unacceptable. Any violence in a democracy is unacceptable. Law must be supreme. No side wins, the nation loses. Sad day for the Republic.”

With inputs from PTI

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