New Delhi: Thousands of farmers entered New Delhi and reached Red Fort and ITO from Singhu and Ghazipur borders as part of their tractor rally Tuesday.
The farmers deviated from the pre-approved route and on their way clashed with the Delhi Police, vandalised buses and breached barricades. The police, in turn, resorted to lathi-charge and also lobbed tear gas shells.
A farmer in his 30s, who was on one of the tractors, was allegedly hit by a tear gas shell on his head. He started bleeding profusely and his truck overturned.
He was rushed to hospital. While farmers at the spot claimed he died on the spot, the police have not confirmed this or issued any formal statement in this regard.
Several farmers gathered at ITO, opposite the old Delhi Police Headquarters, with a plan to march to India Gate, where the Republic Day parade was held in the morning. Meanwhile, another group with over 5,000 tractors, reached Red Fort with an aim to “surround central Delhi”.
The police deployed at ITO resorted to lathi-charge and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. Many farmers and even media personnel were injured in the lathi-charge.
“We had to resort to lathi-charge as the protesters would not listen to us. Although their leaders agreed to go back to the route that was mutually decided, these farmers decided to breach barricades, break police buses, attack policemen and march towards central Delhi,” a police officer, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
He added: “We appeal to all farmers to not take law in their hands and stick to the designated route. They should return to the borders peacefully.”
At Nangloi in west Delhi, the Delhi Police also formed a human chain to stop tractors from reaching central Delhi to no avail.
Senior policemen including special commissioners and joint commissioners have been deployed at the borders.
No FIRs have been registered so far and no one has been detained. The police, however, said the protesters will be detained in buses if they do not return.
‘This is how the govt will understand our might’
Meanwhile, farmers marched towards Red Fort and ITO wielding swords and iron pipes, though the swords were not used to attack anyone.
Speaking to ThePrint, a farmer from Punjab, Jalpreet Singh, said they deviated from their route to “show their might”.
“We will surround Red Fort. Only then the government will understand our might and plight,” Singh said.
A few farmers also sustained grave injuries. While a tear gas shell explosion almost decapitated a farmer’s thumb, another shell exploded near the ear of a young farmer.
“Look what has happened to us. Why would they throw these shells in the middle of where everyone is standing,” a protesting farmer said.
‘Wanted to send a message to govt, will return’
At the Red Ford, the protesting farmers climbed on to poles waving flags and hoisting the ‘Kesari Jhanda’. Many also performed bike stunts and showed off swords, raising anti-Modi slogans and chanting ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’.
The farmers told ThePrint that they marched towards Lal Quila only “to send a message to the government” and will return to the borders to continue with the protest.
“We have showed the government our strength,” said Joginder Badal, a farmer.
“We have been undermined and underestimated. Hope the government now understands that they cannot impose those laws on us. No matter what is thrown at us, we will still win,” Joginder Badal said
“The Red Fort is a symbol of a Republic. Farmers are an integral part of this sovereign democratic republic. The Modi government has forgotten that. BJP must now accept defeat and understand that this is our country as well,” said K.S. Singh, a farmer from Amritsar.