Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI—The “tractor rally” was marked by chaos and disorder, with a protesting farmer reported to have been killed and several others, including more than 50 policemen, were injured in clashes when the defiant farmers entered into the national Capital from several places, violating the police orders.
The “tractor rally” was taken out to demand repeal of the three Farm Laws passed by the Narendra Modi government in September last year. While the government says that the laws have been enacted in favour of farmers, the latter say that the laws have been passed to benefit the corporates. The government reiterated its stand even on the Republic Day.
As tens of thousands of farmers from all over the country entered into the Capital, a large of them drove to the historic Red Fort and some Sikh farmers put their religious flag-Nishan Sahib-atop a pole removing Indian Tricolour as also an adjoining dome above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort. It is on the ramparts of the Red Fort that India’s Prime Minister unfurls national flag on Independence Day on August 15 every year.
However, the farm union leaders immediately denounced the violence by stray elements. Yogendra Yadav of the Swaraj Andolan, who is a part of the Kisan Ekta Morcha, spearheading the movement demanding repeal of the three farm laws, said that behaviour of violence would weaken the struggle of farmers seeking withdrawal of the farm laws. He appealed farmers to remain peaceful and take out rallies only on the routes allowed by the police.
While the farmers were allowed rallies between 12 noon and 5 pm, they started their rallies early by removing the police barricades at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. While police at Singhu border tried to stop farmers by using water canon, it failed and farmers succeeded in removing concrete barracks and proceeded towards Delhi. Instead of taking the route allowed by the police for “tractor rally”, they took to other routes and reached ITO and Red For via Kashmiri Gate.
The same was the story at Tikri border where farmers managed to remove concertina wires and huge export containers filled with toil to block the farmers from marching to Delhi. Likewise, farmers managers to remove barricades at UP’s Ghazipur border and entered Delhi, despite police putting up strong resistance at several places en route. Firing of teargas shells failed to prevent the farmers from reaching the ITO. However, there were pitched battle between the police and the protesters at ITO when the farmers tried to drive towards the India Gate and police clearly told them that under no circumstances, they would be allowed to march to India Gate. It was from here that farmers then marched towards Red Fort.
Though the farmers managed to enter the national Capital and reach Red Fort defying the police orders, political analysts say that this is going to benefit the ruling BJP and PM Narendra Modi politically.
As the government has been saying from the beginning itself that Khalistan supporters had infiltrated into the farm protests, the putting of Sikh religious flag atop the ramparts of the Red Fort will be used by the government as a proof of its allegations. This is certainly not going to help the agitating farmers in achieving their demand. And this will further strengthen the position of BJP, at least, within its own constituents.