Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has appealed to all “genuine farmers” to vacate Delhi – parts of which saw unprecedented scenes of violence as farmers and police clashed on Republic Day – and return to the city’s borders, where thousands have been camped peacefully since late November to protest against the centre’s agriculture laws.
“Shocking scenes in Delhi… violence by some elements is unacceptable. It’ll negate goodwill generated by peaceful protests. Kisan leaders have disassociated themselves and suspended tractor rally… urge all genuine farmers to vacate Delhi and return to the borders,” he said.
The Chief Minister also directed Punjab Police to be on “high alert” and asked DGP Dinkar Gupta to ensure that law and order in the state is not disturbed at any cost.
Shocking scenes in Delhi. The violence by some elements is unacceptable. It’ll negate goodwill generated by peacefully protesting farmers. Kisan leaders have disassociated themselves & suspended #TractorRally. I urge all genuine farmers to vacate Delhi & return to borders.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) January 26, 2021
Earlier today, as the nation celebrated Republic Day and Delhi’s iconic Rajpath was set to host the annual parade, hundreds of farmers gathered at three border points – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur.
They had been given permission to hold their tractor rally along designated routes and after the parade at Rajpath was over. However, by 8 am groups of farmers marched and drove their tractors through police barricades at border points, and stormed into the capital.
Groups of farmers also broke from the designated routes and drove into the iconic Red Fort complex, where protesters climbed the ramparts and raised flags of Sikh religious significance.
It took several hours for the police to remove the protesters.
Farmers and police also clashed at the ITO junction – the gateway to the heart of VIP Delhi – with security officials resorting to lathi charges and tear gassing to control the crowd. One farmer was killed – police said he died after a tractor overturned, but farmers say he died in police firing.
The farmers have blamed “anti-social elements” for the violence and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a federation of 40 farmer unions, has dissociated itself from the chaos and appealed for calm.
Amid the shocking violence internet and Metro services in parts of the city were shut down.
Home Minister Amit Shah met senior police and government officials in the evening to review the situation and decide if further paramilitary presence was needed to restore order.
Mr Singh, who has strongly supported the farmers’ peaceful protest in their fight to get the contentious laws repealed, was joined by other opposition leaders in denouncing the violence.
“Violence is not the solution to any problem. If anyone gets hurt, our nation will suffer. Take back the anti-farmer law for the benefit of the country!” Congress’s Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Delhi’s ruling AAP also tweeted, accusing “external elements” of causing the violence and the police (who report to the centre) of “allowing the situation to deteriorate”.
The farmers are protesting three central laws 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.