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Monday, March 08, 2021

Daily Briefing: Farm protestors cross Red Fort line; Rafale steals R-Day show

From the gruesome murder of two sisters in Andhra Pradesh, to India's tough stance during negotiations with China over withdrawal of troops from friction points in Ladakh; here are today's top stories.


Updated: January 27, 2021 9:06:00 am
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Good morning,

The Big Story 

In the most violent escalation in two months of generally peaceful protests, hundreds of farmers protesting against the farm laws diverted from agreed routes for a tractor rally, felled barriers at Delhi borders, clashed with police to enter the Capital, and stormed the Red Fort to unfurl the Nishan Sahib, the religious flag of the Sikhs. The chaotic and violent scenes overshadowed the Republic Day event at Rajpath, but the parade remained unaffected. 

Protesters hoist own flag after entering the Red Fort during the tractor parade against the farm laws on Tuesday. (Expres photo by Abhinav Saha)

Capital Chaos 

The Delhi Police had reservations over granting permission for the tractor rally, but a political call was taken to allow the rally rather than letting the farmers take a “more confrontationist” stand, sourced told The Indian Express.

 The call to break away from the designated routes, many farm leaders said, was given by some fringe elements, who hijacked the stage at the Singhu border for hours on the night before the rally. Initially, it was some unknown faces, but later Punjabi film actor Deep Sidhu, who campaigned for the BJP’s Sunny Deol in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, addressed the crowd.

The tractor rally from Ghazipur was a splintered affair from start to finish. Tractors broke away from the designated route and got on the flyover to head towards Akshardham, where they were met with teargas shells as police tried to stop them. Despite this, many moved forward and went on to ITO and Red Fort.

The violence that unfolded at ITO lasted for over two hours as thousands of protestors clashed with police personnel, who resorted to teargas shelling and lathi charge. A 27-year-old farmer died allegedly after his tractor overturned, while dozens were injured on both sides. But how did it all begin? Most of the crowd that gathered at ITO had arrived from Ghazipur border after refusing to follow the rally route of Hapur road-KGP Expressway.

The violence on Republic Day will present an opening for the Government to recalibrate its position and press its case that the agitation involves not just farmers but hardline elements as well. Sources also pointed out that the tractor parade going awry could become an “exit point” for the farmers’ unions. 

Must read

Marking 50 years of 1971 war, Bangladeshi team part of Republic Day event The Bangladesh contingent at the parade.

After two sisters were brutally bludgeoned to death by their parents in Andhra Pradesh, police are now trying to piece together the events that led to the murders. “It seems like the whole family was involved in some extreme religious belief. The deaths are a result of this,” said DSP of Madanapalli taluk, Ravi Manohar Achari. What’s even more bizarre is that the couple’s friends and family claim the sisters, too, were involved in the alleged occult practices that led to their deaths. 

A stunning ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre by the Rafale fighter jet, a Bangladesh military contingent to mark 50 years of the 1971 India-Pakistan war — these were some of the standout moments from yesterday’s Republic Day parade, which was shorter and with fewer spectators due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

During Sunday’s military commander-level negotiations with China over withdrawal of troops from friction points in eastern Ladakh, India toughened its stance. Sources told the Indian Express that India rejected China’s last proposal on troop withdrawals and insisted that any disengagement would have to be a “simultaneous and step-by-step effort” by both sides.

ICYMI

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Tuesday ordered temporary suspension of Internet services in parts of Delhi, including Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Mukarba Chowk, Nangloi and their adjoining areas, from 12 noon to midnight.

The BSF unfurled the Tricolour on a 131-foot-high flag post along the India-Pakistan border on the occasion of Republic Day – the tallest ever along the zero line in Jammu and Kashmir.

House Democrats delivered the impeachment case against Donald Trump to the Senate, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. 

And Finally

After playing 74 tournaments over four whole seasons from 2016 to 2019, ace shuttler PV Sindhu’s decision to take a break was a wise one. With the Indian having played more matches than most other players, she had earned a two-and-half month time off training and competition. Now she is recharged and battle ready. 

Delhi Confidential: Syed Shahnawaz Hussain’s nomination to the Upper House in Bihar earlier this week has been keeping everyone guessing, right from his own party leaders to ally JD(U). Some call it rehabilitation with demotion, others call it a way to keep Chief Minister Nitish Kumar guessing on the BJP’s attempt, though symbolic, to keep Muslim voters in good humour. 

In today’s episode of 3 Things, we look at why Bombay HC acquitted a man of sexual assault  on the grounds that pressing the breasts of a child over her clothes without direct “skin to skin” physical contact does not constitute “sexual assault” under the the POCSO Act.  

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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