Additional paramilitary forces will be positioned in Delhi after farmer protests escalated into clashes in parts of the capital today, with many protesters entering the Red Fort. The decision to deploy additional forces was taken at a meeting between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and top security and police officers to review security.
Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava were present at the high level meeting that lasted for an hour and a half.
“Yesterday, 15 companies of paramilitary forces were sent to Delhi. Ten were from CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and rest five were from other paramilitary forces. Similarly, five companies were on standby today,” news agency ANI quoted an unnamed official as saying.
Amit Shah, say sources, was briefed on the clashes that erupted after thousands of farmers breached barricades at the borders, deviated from agreed routes and reached the heart of the city. The Home Minister reportedly ordered the police to take strict action against those who violated the parade conditions.
Sources say the Delhi Police has compiled statements issued by farmer leaders and those who instigated the violence have been identified.
Internet has been suspended in parts of Delhi and its neighbourhood.
As the nation celebrated Republic Day in the morning, farmers protesting outside Delhi’s borders for nearly two months knocked down police barricades long before the time that had been agreed upon for their tractor rally in the capital.
The farmers, despite heavy police presence and teargassing, entered Delhi and reached the key ITO intersection that is virtually the gateway to the VIP zone in the heart of Delhi. There were clashes between farmers and cops at the spot, right outside the Delhi Police headquarters.
The situation rapidly went out of control as farmers drove their tractors into the iconic Red Fort.
Protesting farmers climbed the ramparts and tried to put up yellow flags of Sikh religious significance.
It took hours for the police to remove the protesters from the 400-year-old Mughal-built monument.
The farmers are protesting against three central laws that they say will deplete their income, take away their guaranteed minimum prices for crops and leave them open to exploitation by big corporations. Farmers protested in several other cities today in solidarity with their comrades in north India.
The farmers were accused of violating the terms of the tractor rally by starting before time and on a different route. The government had opposed the rally in the Supreme Court saying it would be a “national embarrassment” at a time when the country was celebrating Republic Day.