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After hoisting flag at Red Fort ‘Message Delivered’; Protesting farmers recede

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Thousands of agitating farmers who stormed into national capital breaking barricades on their tractors amid Republic Day celebrations,  stomped into the Red Fort complex by noon, and hoisted their sacred flag, while violence continued in parts of the Delhi.

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The farmers, who had refused to leave Delhi, have now agreed to move back after talks with Delhi Police. The violence broke out in several parts of the city as farmers forcefully entered Delhi ahead of agreed upon time and veered from the permitted tractor rally route. The videos on news channels showed clashes between Delhi police and protesting farmers, where they were faced with lathi charge, tear-gas, as cops tried to control the agitators.

The protest went out of control, after farmers’ stomped into iconic Red Fort and climbed a flagpole below the ramparts of the fort from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation on Independence Day.

Giving a ‘message’ they hoisted a sacred flag of Sikhs at a second flagpole, while thousands of others, carrying the national flag in their hands, stood at the huge gates of the fort. Meanwhile, tractors took over the Ramlila Maidan outside the fort, the original site where they had planned their protest.

“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 media at the Red Fort. “We managed to reach the Fort even though they tried to stop us. We will not stop till we reach our goal – the repeal of the three farm laws,” another protesting farmer said.

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Meanwhile, the farmers had agreed upon a rally route given to them by Delhi Police according to which they were supposed to enter the periphery of the city for their tractor rally on the Republic Day, that too after a court battle. Initially it was claimed to be a peaceful rally but last evening, one of the participants, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said they would not stick to the course.

The tractor rally which was to start from 3 spots outside the Delhi borders, was given 10 am to take out the procession and were not expected to enter Delhi before the traditional Republic Day parade by the armed forces at Rajpath which ended around 11.30 am, one and a half hours after agreed upon time for the rally.

As per reports, the farmers started to pour in at the borders at around 8 am even before the parade begin and thousands entered the national capital on foot. Trending visuals showed farmers breaching barriers at the Singhu border near Haryana, which is the epicenter of protests against the three contentious farm laws that began on November 26.

The violent protest showed a police bus hijacked by farmers in Delhi’s ITO, while another clip from Akshardham showed policemen on an overbridge firing tear gas shells on the protesters standing on the road looking for a cover. Protesters were also seen vandalising a bus even though their leaders repeatedly insisted that the protests will be “peaceful”. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) today shut down the entry and exit gates at several metro stations.

According to media reports, three routes were cleared for the farmers to hold the parade – 63-km route near Singhu Border, 62.5 km-long route from Tikri border, a 68-km long route from Ghazipur border that divides Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. However, they reached central Delhi’s ITO, 20 km from the planned route and then marched towards Red fort.

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To note, till now eleven rounds of talks have been held between the farmers and the Centre which have been inconclusive so far. The government, however, has offered to put the laws on hold for 18 months, which was turned down by the farmers, demanding a complete repeal of the ‘black law’ as what they call it. Meanwhile, a special committee, appointed by Supreme Court is conducting negotiations for the both the sides.

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