R-Day violence: Police intensify crackdown, farm leaders dig their heels in

Delhi Police officials inspect the site of the farmers’ agitation at Singhu border on Thursday PTI
Two days after a violent protest by farmers on Republic Day, the Delhi Police today intensified its crackdown on the farm leaders and sent lookout notices for those named in the first information report (FIR). They also handed the investigation to a special cell to probe the conspiracy and criminal design behind the incidents.

The farmer leaders, meanwhile, vowed to continue with their agitation, peacefully, demanding the repeal of the farm Acts. Eyewitnesses said an eerie silence prevailed in several protest sites as farmers in some places have started returning to their villages.

At Ghazipur, one of the main protest venues on the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait) leader Rakesh Tikait, in a statement, demanded magisterial inquiry into the incident at Red Fort, while resolving to continue with the agitation peacefully. 

Sources said UP has issued an ultimatum to the protesting farmers at Ghazipur border to vacate the venue by Thursday night, failing which strict action might be taken against them.

The All Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), one of the groups participating in the protest, also issued a statement rejecting the claims that it had withdrawn from the agitation and said it will continue its peaceful protest against the farm laws.

After the withdrawal from the protest by two farmer groups yesterday, another group of farmers protesting at the Shahjahanpur site under the banner of Kisan Mahapachayat decided to end its support following Tuesday’s violence.

The Delhi Police, meanwhile, formed nine crack teams to locate the people behind the violence.

The farmer unions alleged conspiracy behind the violence, which left 394 police personnel injured and one protester dead.

Thousands of protesting farmers, who reached ITO from the Ghazipur border, had clashed with the police on January 26. Many of them, driving tractors, reached the Red Fort and entered the monument. Some even hoisted flags and placed the flagstaff on the ramparts of the monument.

Earlier, Delhi Police had named actor Deep Sidhu and gangster-turned-social activist Lakha Sidhana in an FIR lodged in connection with the Red Fort incident.

In other developments, Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited a hospital on Thursday to enquire about the health of policemen injured in the violence. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava accompanied him.

Also, 16 Opposition parties have decided to boycott the President's address to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament in solidarity with the protesting farmers.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s borders remained under heavy police deployment on Thursday. Security personnel have also been deployed at the Red Fort.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several border points, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws.

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