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Samyukt Kisan Morcha calls off tractor parade; internet suspended in 3 Haryana districts for 24 hrs

ITO, particularly, witnessed chaotic scenes as protesters could be seen chasing police personnel with sticks and ramming their tractors into the buses parked by police.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
January 26, 2021 5:22:58 pm
In town for Republic-Day, artists in middle of Red Fort chaos, taken to safetyFarmers remove police barricades set up near the Red Fort during the 'Kisan Gantantra Parade' amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations, in New Delhi. (PTI)

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha called off the tractor parade by farmers Tuesday and appealed to participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites. The tractor parade, which began much ahead of the scheduled time, turned violent with farmers opposing the Centre’s new agri laws and police clashing at several areas of the national capital.

“We have called off the farmers’ Republic Day parade with immediate effect and appealed to all participants to immediately return back to their respective protest sites. The movement will continue peacefully and further steps will be discussed and decided soon,” the farmers’ union body said in a statement.

The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, is leading the protest against the three central farm laws at several border points of Delhi.

Chaos prevailed at several places in the national capital earlier today after stick-wielding farmers clashed with police and entered the iconic Red Fort and ITO on Republic Day. In unprecedented scenes, after entering the Red Fort complex, protesters attempted to climb the domes and the ramparts, some clambering up the flagpole to hoist a flag from the same place the prime minister unfurls the tricolour from on Independence Day.

Police later removed protesting farmers from Red Fort premises.

ITO, particularly, witnessed chaotic scenes as protesters could be seen chasing police personnel with sticks and ramming their tractors into the buses parked by police. Amid all this, a protesting farmer also died after his tractor overturned at ITO, police told PTI.

While the Delhi Police had given permission to farmers protesting against Centre’s three farm laws to conduct their parade on pre-selected routes only, chaos ensued as farmers were adamant on heading towards central Delhi. Security personnel then resorted to lathicharge and tear gas on protesters after hundreds of farmers deviated from their pre-determined routes.

Earlier in the day, groups of protesting farmers camping at Singhu and Tikri border points of the national capital broke police barricades to force their way into the city.

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

Mobile internet suspended in 3 Haryana districts for 24 hours

Mobile internet services were suspended in three Haryana districts of Sonipat, Jhajjar and Palwal until 5 pm Wednesday, the state government said Tuesday evening, as violent protests by farmers rocked neighbouring Delhi.

Haryana’s Home Secretary Rajeev Arora said the order is issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the districts.

The order comes into force immediately and will remain in effect till 5 pm of January 27, he said. He said the order covers internet services (2G/ 3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and “all dongle services etc provided on mobile networks except voice calls in territorial jurisdiction of district Sonipat, Palwal and Jhajjar of Haryana State”.

86 police personnel injured in violence during tractor parade

The Delhi Police on Tuesday said protesting farmers violated the conditions pre-agreed for their tractor parade and indulge in violence and vandalism, leaving 86 of its personnel injured.

In a statement, the police also claimed it did all due diligence in following the conditions for the rally, but the protesters began their march much ahead of the scheduled time and extensive damage to public property was caused during the violence by them.

“The protesters violated conditions fixed for the rally. The farmers began tractor rally before the scheduled time, they also resorted to violence and vandalism,” Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said.

“We followed all conditions as promised and did our due diligence but the protest led to extensive damage to public property. Many policemen were also injured during the protest,” Singhal said.

Police use baton charge, tear gas on farmers at Nangloi Chowk

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells on farmers at Nangloi Chowk in West Delhi after they attempted to deviate from the pre-agreed route to enter the national capital. The agitating farmers broke cement barricades at Nangloi Chowk and Mukarba Chowk following which the police used heavy tear gas shells to disperse the unruly crowd, PTI quoted an official as saying.

The official said that police personnel used tear gas to disperse groups of farmers coming from the Singhu border point as they tried to take out a march on the Outer Ring Road much ahead of the allotted time.

In Shahdara, Police baton charged farmers at Chintamani Chowk when they broke barricades and smashed window panes of cars. A group of ‘Nihangs’ (traditional Sikh warriors) also clashed with security personnel near Akshardham Temple.

The Delhi Police, on their part, also appealed to the protesting farmers to not take law in their hands and asked the farmers to head back to their pre-decided routes for the tractor parade. “We request to the protesting farmers to not take law in their hands and maintain peace,” Additional PRO Anil Mittal told PTI.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha distances itself from ‘violent elements’

As chaos ensued, farm union leaders distanced themselves from what was going on.

“We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline. Antisocial elements infiltrated our otherwise peaceful movement. We condemn and regret undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place today during farmers’ protest. We thank farmers for unprecedented participation in ‘Farmers’ Republic Day Parade’,” Samyukta Kisan Morcha told PTI.

Centre orders internet shutdown in areas close to protest sites in Delhi

Amid protests, the Centre also ordered shut down of internet services in parts of Delhi-NCR. A government order sent to telecom service providers directed temporary suspension of internet services in areas of Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Mukarba Chowk and Nangloi and their adjoining areas in the NCT of Delhi from 12.00 hours to 23.59 hours on the Republic Day, according to the Department of Telecom, reported PTI.

A Department of Telecom spokesperson told PTI that the internet shutdown order has been invoked by the local law and order administration and not by the department.

Union Minister Prahlad Patel condemns actions of a section of farmers

Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Prahlad Patel condemned the actions of a section of farmers and said it violated the symbol of dignity of India’s democracy. In a tweet today, Patel said, “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.”

Rahul Gandhi says violence is not solution, calls for repeal of farm laws

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserted that violence is not the solution to any problem even as he sought repeal of the three farm laws in “national interest”.

Gandhi took to Twitter to say that if anyone gets hurt the damage will be inflicted to the country, after violence broke out during the tractor parade by protesters against the new farm laws.

“Violence is not the solution to any problem. If anyone gets hurt, the damage will be done to our country. Take back the anti-agricultural laws in national interest,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

The Congress also tweeted a video showing smoke from tear gas shells lobbed at farmers to stop them from entering Delhi.

“Republic Day 2021 in New India. Our national capital is up in smoke as the government attacks its own people,” the party said on its official Twitter handle along with the video.

The opposition party also said that it is standing strongly behind the farmers in their protest against the farm laws.

No flag but sacred tiranga should fly aloft Red Fort: Shashi Tharoor

Describing as “most unfortunate” the incident of a protesting farmer hoisting a flag at the Red Fort, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said he supported the farmers’ protests from the start but cannot condone “lawlessness”.

He asserted that on Republic Day no flag but the sacred tiranga should fly aloft the Red Fort.

“Most unfortunate. I have supported the farmers’ protests from the start but I cannot condone lawlessness. And on #RepublicDay no flag but the sacred tiranga should fly aloft the Red Fort,” the former Union minister said on Twitter, tagging a tweet which carried a video of the incident.

While farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the two-month protest at the national capital’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 saffron flag hoisted by protesters from a staff at the iconic Red Fort during their tractor parade on Tuesday was the ‘Nishan Sahib’, a symbol of Sikh religion seen at all Gurdwara complexes.

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