After R-Day violence, farmers call off march to Parliament on February 1

Farmer leaders address a gathering during their ongoing protest, at Delhi’s Tikri border, a day after the farmers’ tractor rally turned violent | Photo: PTI
A day after the tractor parade to Delhi spiralled into chaos and violence, farmer unions on Wednesday cancelled their planned foot march to Parliament on February 1 when the Budget would be presented in the House.

Farmers protesting the new farm laws would instead hold public meetings and a hunger strike on January 30, on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary. The Delhi police, on the other hand, have booked farmer leader Rakesh Tikait and 36 others, and also detained around 200 people in connection with incidents of violence and vandalism in various parts of Delhi, including at Red Fort.

They have also filed 25 FIRs naming activists Yogendra Yadav, Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, and others. FIRs were filed under various sections of the IPC, including 147, 148 (related to rioting), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy).

Two farmer unions — the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) and the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Com­mittee — have decided to withdraw from the ongoing agitation. During the tractor parade, a section of protestors broke through barriers, clashed with police personnel, overturned vehicles, and hoisted a religious flag on the ramparts of Red Fort.

The violence left as many as 349 policemen injured, officials said.

 During a press conference, Delhi police chief S N Shrivastava said: "We held five rounds of meetings with farmer leaders before the tractor rally... Farmer leaders have betrayed us -- they did not follow conditions set for the tractor parade."

 He alleged farmer leaders like Satnam Singh Pannu and Darshan Pal gave inflammatory speeches after which protesters broke through barricades.

Countering the allegation, Pal dubbed the violence a “government conspiracy”.

Farmer leader Shivkumar Kakka said: “We've video clips and will expose how the conspiracy was hatched to defame our movement.”
Tikait said an FIR against any farmer leader is an FIR against farmers of the country. Yadav, a Swaraj India leader, however, said: "We regret the Red Fort incident and accept moral responsibility."

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah took stock of the security situation and measures taken to ensure peace in the city, officials said.

Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel visited Red Fort to assess the damage caused by a section of farmers who stormed the monument and hoisted Nishan Sahib, the Sikh religious flag, after deviating from the rally route. The minister has sought a report on the incident.

The government maintained that it was open to further talks with protesting farmers. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar said: "We have never said that the doors for dialogue are closed."

MoS Agriculture Kailash Chaudhury said those political organisations which have been rejected by the electorate are trying to come into prominence through the protest.

The Delhi Metro authorities shut the Lal Quila station and restricted entry to the Jama Masjid station.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appealed to the Narendra Modi government to repeal, what he claimed were, "anti-agriculture" laws.
In Haryana, Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala tendered his resignation from the Assembly against the laws and the Speaker accepted it.

 While criticising violence and distancing itself from "leaderless and violent", RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh demanded amendments to the farm laws and legal guarantee on minimum support price.

 The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) alleged "antisocial" elements, like actor Deep Sidhu, attempted to "torpedo" their peaceful agitation under a conspiracy, but asserted they won't allow "the government and other forces inimical to the peaceful movement to break this struggle”.

 Two pleas were filed in the Supreme Court over the violence with one seeking setting up of a commission, headed by a retired apex court judge, to inquire into the incident; the other urged it to direct the media not to declare farmers "terrorists" without any evidence.

Industry chamber CII said law and order should not be violated and the Centre, as well as protesting farmers, must be open to dialogue for reaching a solution.

CII President Uday Kotak told PTI: "While we recognise the importance of peaceful protest, it has to be something which is consistent with making sure that public law and order is not violated".

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel