Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged all the “genuine farmers” to vacate Delhi and return to city’s borders after violent clashes erupted between farmers and police in parts of national capital following farmer’s Republic Day tractor protest march against Centre’s contentious farm laws.
“Shocking scenes in Delhi… violence by some elements is unacceptable. It’ll negate goodwill generated by peaceful protests. Kisan leaders have disassociated themselves and suspended tractor rally… urge all genuine farmers to vacate Delhi and return to the borders,” said the Punjab CM.
Tens of thousands farmers have been peacefully staging protest since November 26 against Centre’s three agriculture laws which the protestors call ‘black laws’ or ‘anti-farmer laws’. To make their voice heard, the farmers had announced to take out a tractor rally on Republic day, which was deemed by Centre as “an embarrassment to the nation” in Supreme Court. The apex court in its hearing stated that it’s a “law and order” issue and the Delhi Police should decide on the same.
The Delhi Cops had permitted farmers to take out tractor rally on R-day but on several conditions like route of the march and timings. Farmers, however, had agreed upon to hold their tractor rally along designated routes and after the parade at Rajpath was over. But by 8 am few groups of farmers marched and drove their tractors through police barricades at border points, and stormed into the national capital. They further stomped into the iconic Red Fort complex and climbed the ramparts and raised flags of Sikh religious significance.
The chaotic situation was seen in several parts of the city, where police was seen hurling tear gas and resorting to lathis charge, while protestors were throwing sticks and stone at the police personnels. The clash between the two sides also broke out at the ITO junction, the gateway to the heart of VIP Delhi, where one farmer was killed- after his tractor overturned as per police, but farmers say he died in police firing.
It took several hours for the police to remove the protesters.
Calling out against the Centre for not fulfilling its responsibility, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “Nobody will support whatever happened today but the reason behind it cannot be ignored either. Those sitting calmly grew angry, the Centre didn’t fulfill its responsibility. Govt should act maturely & take the right decision”
He further said, “Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh held protest in a disciplined manner but govt didn’t take them seriously. As restraint ended, the tractor march was taken out. Centre’s responsibility was to keep law & order in control but they failed.”
Meanwhile, the farmers have blamed “anti-social elements” for the violence and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an association of 40 farmer unions, has dissociated itself from the chaos and appealed for calm and peaceful protest.
“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,” a statement from the organisation read.
Aam Aadmi Party also believed some external elements agitated the peaceful protest, “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 for the last two months.”
To note, the farmers are protesting against three central laws; The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, which they say will deplete their income, take away their guaranteed minimum prices for crops and leave them open to exploitation by big corporations.