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Farmers’ Demonstration: Tractor Parade Becomes Capital Raid | India News

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NEW DELHI: The script was read and red lines were drawn, but nothing went according to plan when the farmers pulled out their tractor rally on Tuesday. A race to the heart of Delhi on high-speed tractors ramming barricades and even threatening to run over policemen, widespread vandalism and destruction of public property and protracted clashes with police marred a two-month peaceful agitation over farm laws . This was crowned with the deployment of the Sikh religious flag, Nishan Sahib, at the Red Fort, even as police fought protesters in the foreground.
The leaders who had promised a peaceful march and should have controlled the hotheads made the disappearing act and the volunteers who were supposed to keep the march going were nowhere to be seen. This was a Pyrrhic victory, a bitter harvest of what turned out to be a rudderless upheaval when it came to taking to the streets.
The police showed extraordinary restraint as the use of force against farmers was never on the table during discussions between the higher ups. However, this strategy brought more than 120 policemen to hospital, half of them seriously injured. Some are critical and are in ICU. A farmer driving a tractor dangerously crashed into the barricades near ITO and was killed on the spot.
Ignoring the time of 12 pm to 5 pm that had been agreed for the tractor rally, protesters at the Singhu and Ghazipur borders had started challenging the police as early as 6:30 am They soon began trying to break through the barricades. This was even before the Republic Day parade started. At 8 a.m., the barricades in Singhu were broken down and 45 minutes later, Tikri had also been raped. The tractor rally was on, still in progress.
By 10 a.m., between 6,000 and 7,000 tractors had entered Delhi, mocking the police and violating virtually all mutually agreed terms and conditions. When this group reached Mukarba Chowk on GT Karnal Road around 10.40am, they insisted on moving towards central Delhi, rather than following the previously designated route. The policemen tried to reason with them, but the farmers, led by Nihangs on horses carrying swords and kirpans, charged the police and broke through several layers of barricades between Mukarba Chowk and Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar. The protesters were tear gassed and mild force was used, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, a section of farmers on the Ghazipur border broke through the barricades at various points and headed towards ITO, through Akshardham and Millennium Park, where they were joined by some Singhu farmers. Things were getting chaotic in Tikri too. Here, a part of the protesters refused to turn towards Najafgarh and insisted on marching towards Peeragarhi and central Delhi, prompting one-day clashes with the police.
However, it was at ITO that the protesters met stiff resistance from the police that turned the intersection into a battlefield. The peasants became violent and broke barricades, damaged railings and iron partitions and even tried to run over the policemen with their tractors. At around 12:35 pm, the police fired tear gas projectiles and loaded the protesters with latex, starting a game of cat and mouse. The protesters threw stones at the policemen.
With reinforcements arriving after the conclusion of the R-Day parade, the police managed to prevent them from entering the New Delhi district and advancing towards Parliament. A section of protesters then turned to the Red Fort and another stayed in Vikas Marg.
Having reached the walls of the Red Fort, the protesters hoisted up the Nishan Sahib amid much cheering, even as the police were under attack nearby. Only late at night could order be restored and the crowd withdrew from the area.
Clashes between the police and farmers continued throughout the day. Most of the incidents were recorded in Mukarba Chowk, Ghazipur, ITO, Seemapuri, Nangloi, Tikri Border and Red Fort.
Delhi police, caught between overseeing R-Day security and handling spiraling violence, used mild force, including tear gas, and suspended the internet in many places. The latter’s request was made by the special cell to the interior ministry, which gave the order without much shock.
According to intelligence officials, things got out of control as the protesters had virtually no leaders. Although the talks had been held with the elderly union leaders, the young men took over Tuesday morning, refusing to listen to the advice or instructions of the police, with the leaders of the place having disappeared.
Reacting to the events of the day, Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava said: “The time and routes for the tractor rally were finalized after several rounds of meetings. But the farmers pulled their tractors off the routes and before the set time , which led to vandalism in which many policemen were injured. ”
“Public property has also been damaged. I call on protesting farmers not to indulge in violence, keep the peace and return by designated routes,” he added.

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