Terming the violent incidents during the Republic Day parade called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – the collective of farmers’ organisations – a government sponsored ploy to derail the ongoing agitation for repealing the Farm Laws, the unions said the events made clear the tacit understanding among the perpetrators of violence and the Delhi Police.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) said that those behind the violence – Deep Sidhu, Lakha Sidhana and Sukhpreet Udhoke – were escorted by the police to the Red Fort to carry on their rampage and unfurl the religious flag. He emphasised that Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), a farmers’ organisation, acted as facilitator in the violence by defying the parade timings and protocols.
Rajewal said despite the KMSC reaching the protest site thirteen days later, it was still allocated space by the Delhi Police in front of the protest site, beyond the barricades. “Once our programme for a Republic Day parade was announced by the Morcha, it declared a parallel programme. Even their leaders kept announcing that they would unfurl their flag at the Red Fort. Similarly, Deep Sidhu campaigned for BJP MP Sunny Deol and his connection with the party is quite clear. So, the ploy stands exposed,” alleged Rajewal.
The KMSC began the parade at 7 am on Republic Day, hours ahead of the time decided upon. “We have been cheated by the Delhi Police. It blocked the route by putting barricades and instead diverted the parade towards the Red Fort. When rioters reached the Red Fort, the police troops left the historic monument and the rioters carried on with their rampage for four hours in the absence of any intervention,” he added.
Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) announced that the collective had decided on withdrawing the proposed programme of a foot march to the Parliament on February 1.
“The violent incidents have pained everyone in the country. It is due to the same people who killed Mahatma Gandhi seventy years back. Yesterday, the same elements attempted to kill democracy from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Given what has happened we are announcing a day’s fast on January 30 – the day Mahatma Gandhi was killed,” he said. “It has been the biggest non-violent and disciplined people’s movement post-Independence and it will remain so. The movement will only intensify,” he added.
Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Haryana) referred to the farmer leaders’ talks with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. “When we last met him for talks he said you prepare for the Republic Day parade; we will also prepare. I had no idea what he was referring to. It became clear only today,” he said.
There were other developments in the day. V.M. Singh of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan announced that he would be withdrawing from the movement given the troubling events. “I cannot carry on with the protest with those whose direction is different,” he said.
However, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee rebuffed the announcement. The body, which represents more than 500 farmers’ organisations, said: “The National Working Group of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, its highest decision making body, condemns and disassociates itself from a statement made to the media by Sri V.M. Singh after his press conference today. The statement was neither authorised by AIKSCC nor did it follow the protocols of decision making by the Working Group.”
“The Working Group of AIKSCC reiterates that it firmly stands with the demands of the farmer organisations agitating in unison for repeal of three anti-farmer acts and alegal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) – these are non-negotiable,” it added.
The Delhi Police has named actor Deep Sidhu and gangster-turned-social activist Lakha Sidhana in an FIR in connection with the Red Fort incidents, officials said on Wednesday. The Delhi Police has registered the case at Kotwali police station of North district under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and other legislation, they said.
Provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act and the Arms Act have been added in the FIR. The police has invoked IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, etc), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), and 307 (attempt to murder), they said. Reports mention that Sidhu is now missing.
While there were no exact estimates of how many farmers were hurt in Tuesday's violence, the Delhi Police has said 394 of its personnel were injured. Earlier on Wednesday, Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Srivastava said that 25 criminal cases have been registered and 19 people arrested so far.
With inputs by PTI