A day after the Republic Day violence, when hundreds of protesters forced their way into the Capital and stormed the Red Fort, the Delhi Police has registered 25 FIRs, including against over 30 of the 40 farm union leaders who were involved in talks with the Centre over the last few months.
One of the FIRs, on the Red Fort incident, names Punjabi film actor Deep Sidhu and Lakhbir Singh Sidhana alias Lakha Sidhana, gangster-turned-politician and president of the Malwa Youth Federation.
Thirty-seven farm union leaders, including six spokespersons of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), have been named in an FIR registered at the Samaypur Badli police station, in Outer Delhi, based on a complaint filed by Inspector Anil Kumar.
The six SKM spokespersons who have been named are: Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president, BKU (Sidhupur); Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, BKU (Rajewal); Darshan Pal, president, Krantikari Kisan Union; Rakesh Tikait, president, BKU; Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha; Yogendra Yadav, president, Swaraj Party India. Barring Yogendra Yadav, all the others took part in the talks with the government.
The others who were also among the farm union representatives involved in talks with the Centre and have been named in the FIR are: Boota Singh Burjgill, president, BKU Dakaunda; Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, president, Kirti Kisan Union; Ruldu Singh Mansa, president, Punjab Kisan Union; Inderjit Singh, president, Kisan Sangharsh Committee; Harjinder Singh Tanda, president, Azad Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab; Gurbaksh Singh, president, Jai Kisan Andolan; Satnam Singh Pannu, president, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee; Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, president, Kisan Sanghrash Committee; Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president, BKU-Ugrahan; Surjit Singh Phool, president, BKU Krantikari; Harmeet Singh Kadian, president, BKU Kadian; Satnam Singh Sahni, general secretary, BKU (Doaba); Bogh Singh Mansa, president, BKU (Mansa); Balwinder Singh Aulakh, president, Majha Kisan Committee; Satnam Singh Behru, president, Indian Farmers Association; Bharat Boota Singh Shadipur, president, Bharti Kisan Manch; Baldev Singh Sirsa, president, Lok Bhalai Insaaf Welfare Society; Jagbir Singh Tanda, president, Doaba Kisan Samiti; Mukesh Chandra, Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee; Sukhpal Singh Daffar, president, Ganna Sangharsh Committee; Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary, BKU Lakhowal; Kirpal Singh Nathuwala, president, Kisan Bachao Morcha; Prem Singh Bhangu, president, All India Kisan Federation, Punjab unit; Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president, BKU Haryana; Kavita Kuruganti, Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch; Rishipal Ambavatta, president, BKU Ambavatta; Prem Singh Gehlot, president, All India Kisan Mahasabha, Haryana Unit.
The others named in the FIR are: Medha Patkar, V M Singh and Avik Saha.
The FIR against them lists sections of rioting, criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder and robbery. “The rioters/ protesters and their leaders had a pre-planned objective of not following the mutually agreed route” because of which the violence took place, it says.
After negotiations with Delhi Police, four routes were decided for the farmers’ tractor parade, and 18 unions had given an undertaking to follow these.
“Around 8.30 am on Tuesday, they first broke through blockades on the Singhu border and were riding on tractors, horses, trolleys, carrying iron rods, sticks and some of them even swords. Despite directions of designated route, they wanted to move towards Outer Ring Road… Announcements were made, but the protesters started rioting, causing injuries to the policemen with swords and lathis, and running their tractor over the police officials with intent to kill,” Inspector Kumar said in his complaint.
He alleged that the protesters and their leaders had a “pre-planned” objective to not follow the designated routes, and the timing of the commencement of their “so-called parade” was meant to disrupt the Republic Day parade.
When contacted, some of the farmer leaders named in the FIR denied any role in the violence. “I didn’t cross the Singhu border. I condemn the violence. I was satisfied with the route the police suggested and marched there. Police registered a false case against me,” said Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha.
“I was at the Singhu border and followed the route given by the police. I didn’t tell anyone to go anywhere. I wanted a peaceful march. They (police) should talk to me and ask me such questions before writing my name in the FIR,” said Nirbhai Singh Dhudhike, Kirti Kisan Union.
“If police show me proof that I instigated the crowd or I was there during the clashes, I will believe them and they can arrest me. I didn’t go anywhere and was at the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar. A group of youths surrounded us there and marched towards Delhi. We came back to Tikri,” said Ruldu Singh, Punjab Kisan Union.
“ I didn’t plan or conspire the clashes. I am not part of any such violent movement. I agreed with the police’s route. I followed it from the Singhu border. What can one do if the protest is hijacked and some move towards Delhi,” said Balwinder Singh Aulakh, Majha Kisan Committee.
“People will see the truth. It was others who instigated the farmers, not us. I left with a tractor from the Singhu border. At one point, a few farmers asked me to join them and go to Red Fort. These men wanted to indulge in violence. I didn’t. So, I came back,” said Satnam Singh Behru, Indian Farmer’s Association (Bharat).
“No movement is a concert. FIRs, jails, harassment — these are part and parcel of every movement,” said Yogendra Yadav.
Police said a total of 25 FIRs had been registered across 10 districts and 19 people had been arrested. “We have arrested 19 and detained 50 people in connection with the violence during the farmers’ tractor rally. We are using the facial recognition system and taking the help of CCTV and video footage to identify the accused. Those involved in the violence will not be spared and the farmer leaders will be questioned,” said Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava.
Shrivastava said the Delhi Police held five rounds of meetings with the farmer leaders before the tractor rally. “The protesting farmers were given permission to hold the tractor rally with terms and conditions. But they did not follow the conditions,” he said.
“By late evening of January 25, there were indications that they would not keep their word. They brought forward the aggressive and militant elements, who occupied the stage and delivered provocative speeches which made their intentions clear. Farmer leaders were also involved in the violence that broke out during the tractor rally, Some farmer leaders like Satnam Singh Pannu and Darshan Pal gave inflammatory speeches, following which the protesters breached the barricades,” said Shrivastava.
“Police had many options, but remained calm. While 394 police personnel were injured, 30 police vehicles were damaged in the violence,” he said.
A 27-year-old farmer, Navreet Singh, died during the chaos at ITO when his tractor rammed barricades and overturned. In the FIR filed in connection with the ITO violence, Delhi Police has claimed that Singh was driving the tractor in a rash and negligent manner, and security personnel tried to pull him out to save his life after it overturned. According to the FIR, even as police personnel were trying to help Singh, other protesters turned up with tractors and tried to mow them down.
On Wednesday, security was beefed up in several parts of the city, with paramilitary forces stationed in several areas like Red Fort, central Delhi and the three farm protest sites.
Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Delhi Police Commissioner Shrivastava, Intelligence Bureau chief Arvind Kumar, and Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla to take stock of the situation.
Sources said Delhi Police officers were instructed to take strict action against the rioters and to identify and book leaders who had instigated or facilitated the violence. Sources said Shah also received a report from the Delhi Police on the violence.
“It has been made clear that such violent behaviour on the part of certain elements from the rally cannot be tolerated and a strong message has to be sent through legal action,” said an official.
Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy called the protesters’ actions “seditious”, and also blamed the Congress. “Desecrating symbols on the day our republic was consecrated is sedition. I salute @DelhiPolice for showing immense restraint in dealing with yesterday’s insurrection. FIRs have been filed & those responsible will face the law. Congress Party’s vulture politics is exposed again, ” he tweeted, shortly after a meeting with Shah.
— With Deeptiman Tiwary, New Delhi
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