Updated: January 31, 2021 8:28:01 pm
In his first remarks on the violence and vandalism on Republic Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday said the nation was “saddened by insult to the tricolour.”
“We have to infuse times to come with new hope and novelty. Last year, we displayed exemplary partience and courage. This year too, we have to work hard to attain our resolves. We have to take our country forward at a faster pace,” PM Modi said in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ address.
Meanwhile, farmer leader Naresh Tikait said that protesting farmers will honour the dignity of prime minister, but are also committed to protect their own self-respect. “A respectful solution should be reached. We will never agree to anything under pressure,” he told news agency PTI, adding that government should “release our men and prepare an environment conducive for talks.”
On Jan 26, breaking away from the designated route for the tractor rally, hundreds of protestors wielding sticks and clubs and holding the tricolour and union flags, felled barriers at the borders, clashed with police, and entered the city from various points to lay siege to the Red Fort and climb the flagpole. The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.
Police also had to use lathicharge and teargas shells to control unruly protesters at multiple locations in the city. At most places, the policemen appeared outnumbered and had to retreat as the protesters advanced. After the violence, 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.
Violence also erupted at Singhu border on Friday after a group of some 200 got past three layers of security barricades, claiming the farmers’ agitation had affected their livelihoods. The Centre has also suspended internet services in the capital’s border areas — Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri and their adjoining localities — till Jan 31 11 pm.
On January 26, internet services here had been suspended from 12 noon to midnight. The January 26 ban had been extended until January 27. Apart from Delhi, internet has also been suspended in at least 17 districts of Haryana, including the Delhi-bordering districts of Jhajjar, Palwal and Sonipat, all within a 2-hour driving distance from Central Delhi.
In an all-party meeting on Saturday, PM Modi said the Government’s offer to keep the implementation of the three farm laws on hold for 18 months is still on the table, and that Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar is just a phone call away for taking forward talks with protesting farmer unions. This assurance came after almost the entire Opposition, which had boycotted the President’s address yesterday, raised the farm protests issue. Many, including the Congress, demanded the repeal of the laws and a discussion in Parliament.
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