Thousands of farmers knocked down police barricades as they entered Delhi this morning on foot amid huge police presence ahead of the huge tractor rally, which was allowed to be held after the annual Republic Day parade at the iconic Rajpath.
In unprecedented visuals, chaos could be seen unfolding at the Singhu border, which divides Delhi and Haryana, and Tikri border in the western part of the national capital. Thousands were seen marching with flags; many of them were also on tractors.
The farmers’ tractor rally against the farm laws – Kisaan Parade – was expected to be held after 12 PM. However, huge crowds gathered on the borders at around 8 AM.
More than 5,000 protesters near the Singhu border – the epicentre of the agitation against the new agricultural laws that began late November – were adamant to march ahead. At Tikri, farmers’ leaders asked the protesters to maintain calm. The representatives decided to hold a meeting with cops to decide the timing of the rally.
On Sunday, Delhi Police had allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.
However, Delhi Police had also sounded a warning. “Mischievous elements can create a law-and-order situation,” Deependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), said.
“Over 300 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan during January 13 to 18 to disrupt the tractor rally by farmers only by misleading people. There are inputs about the same from different agencies too. It will be a challenging task for us, but the rally will be conducted amid tight security after the Republic Day parade is over,” he added.
Sources in Delhi Police also warned of disruptions by Pakistan-based ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and “rogue elements linked to Khalistani outfits”.
Three routes were cleared for the farmers to hold the parade – 63-km route near Singhu Border, 62.5 km-long route from Tikri border, a 68-km long route from Ghazipur border that divides Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
On Monday, one of the key participants – the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee – declared that it would not stick to the route agreed upon by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and the police.
Eleven rounds of talks have been held between the farmers and the government but there been no breakthrough. The farmers have turned down the centre’s last offer to put the laws on hold for 18 months while a special committee conducts negotiations.