R-day Violence: 37 Farmer Leaders Named in Delhi Police’s FIR; Unions Call Off Feb 1 March to Parliament

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The Delhi Police has named 37 farmer leaders, including Darshan Pal and Yogendra Yadav, in an FIR in connection with the violence that took place during a tractor rally by farmers, officials said on Wednesday. Police said they will investigate their role.

Police have registered 22 FIRs so far in connection with the violence that left over 300 policemen injured. A total of 200 people have been detained. The FIR mentions multiple IPC sections, including 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 353 (assault/criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy).

The national capital witnessed clashes between protesters and police during the tractor parade by farmers to press their demand of repealing three new agri laws.

Meanwhile, protesting farmer leaders have postponed their foot march to Parliament on February 1 against the three farm laws in wake of the violence in the national capital during the tractor parade on Republic Day. “On Martyrs’ Day, we’ll hold public rallies across India on behalf of the farmers’ agitation. We will also keep a one-day fast. Our March to the Parliament on February 1 stands postponed for now due to this (Tuesday’s violence),” said Balbir S Rajewal of Bhartiya Kisan Union said.

In what could signal a division among former unions protesting against the Centre’s contentious agri laws, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan’s VM Singh today said it is pulling out from the protests. Bhartiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) has also withdrawn. “We can’t carry forward a protest with someone whose direction is something else. So, I wish them the best but VM Singh and Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan are withdrawing from this protest right away”,”he said. “The protest will continue until we get MSP guarantee but the protest will not go on in this form with me. We have not come here to get people martyred or beaten up.”

A total of 153 police personnel were injured, with two of them in ICU, after rioting farmers broke barriers to storm the national capital on Tuesday, their tractor parade to highlight their demands dissolving into unprecedented scenes of anarchy as they fought with police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Clashes broke out at multiple places, leading to violence in well-known landmarks of Delhi and its suburbs amid waves of violence that ebbed and flowed through the day. A protester died after his tractor overturned near ITO, one of the major flashpoints of trouble. In a statement, the police said protesting farmers violated the conditions agreed on for their tractor parade.

Farmers, atop tractors, on motorcycles and some on horses, broke barricades to enter the city at least two hours before they were supposed to start the tractor march at noon sanctioned by authorities. Steel and concrete barriers were broken and trailer trucks overturned as pitched battles broke out in several parts of the city. As tension spiralled, a home ministry official said additional paramilitary troops will be deployed. The exact number of additional troops was not known immediately but officials suggested it could be around 1,500 to 2,000 personnel (about 15 to 20 companies).

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Hoping to curb the violence, the ministry also decided to temporarily suspend internet services in parts of Delhi, including Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri and their adjoining areas, for 12 hours from Tuesday noon.

Eclipsing the traditional show of military might at Rajpath, the farmers’ tractor parade that was supposed to be peaceful led to chaos on the streets and never-before scenes the most perhaps being the sight of protesters clambering up the flagpole at the Red Fort to hoist the Nishaan Sahib’, the Sikh religious flag.

Farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the protest at Delhi’s border points to demand a repeal of the farm laws, dissociated themselves from the protests. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, formally called off the tractor parade and appealed to farmers to return to their respective protest sites. The Morcha also alleged that some “antisocial elements” had infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement. In a statement, it also condemned and regretted the “undesirable” and “unacceptable” events as the parade turned violent after several groups of farmers deviated from the pre-decided route for the march.

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