Call for peaceful protest after farmer rally clashes
January 27 2021 12:10 AM
farmers protest
Police officers use tear gas during a protest against farm laws introduced by the government, in New Delhi yesterday. Right: Protesters climb a flagpole at the ramparts of the Red Fort.

IANS/New Delhi

After violent clashes between police and protesting farmers in the national capital yesterday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) called off the Republic Day tractor rally and appealed to protesters to immediately return to their respective protest sites.
The SKM in a statement, “Samyukt Kisan Morcha has called off the Kisan Republic Day Parade with immediate effect, and has appealed to all the participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites. The movement will continue peacefully and further steps will be discussed and decided soon.
“We thank the farmers for the unprecedented participation in the rally. We also condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that took place today and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts,” it added.
“Despite all our efforts, some organisations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts. Anti-social elements had infiltrated the otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength, and that any violation would hurt the movement,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) yesterday condoled the incident of flag hoisting at the Red fort and accused the Delhi Police of “negligence” as they did not support the farmers’ protest. 
BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said, “Whatever happened was due to the negligence on the part of Delhi Police. They did not support us and they were unable to control the huge number of farmers.” 
When asked about scores of protesters entering the Red Fort and hoisting a flag on the ramparts of the 17th century monument, Tikait said, “I don’t support such activity. We will take action against those who did this.”
Hundreds of farmers clashed with the security forces at the Red Fort and hoisted a pennant on the ramparts of the monument. The farmers also chased the Delhi Police personnel.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday held an emergency meeting at his residence over the violence.
According to sources, the home secretary, director, intelligence bureau and senior officers of Delhi Police were present at the meeting called to take stock of the security arrangements in Delhi.
More central troopers would be deployed in Delhi to meet any exigencies, sources said.
Sources said that apart from additional forces, stand by security personnel have been arranged to control any untoward incident.
Taking serious note of the chain of incidents, Shah called an emergency meeting to strengthen the security apparatus. According to intelligence inputs, some ‘organised groups’ are behind the violence.
The officials are trying to zero in upon the individuals responsible for triggering the violence and provoking the farmers during the tractor parade, especially those behind hoisting a pennant at Red Fort.
Besides, the security arrangements in the border areas of Delhi are also being reviewed.
As the farmers’ protest turned violent, Internet services in some of the locations in the city were stopped following the government’s instruction.
The instruction came at the request of Delhi Police that looked helpless in controlling the aggressive farmers who unexpectedly rammed police barricades and moved towards Red Fort soon after the Republic Day parade concluded.
The telecom operators like Jio, Airtel and Idea alerted their customers through messages about the disrupted Internet services.
“As per the government instructions, Internet services have been stopped in your areas till further notice,” said a message received from Jio in a particular area where Internet services were barred.
The home ministry in an order also suspended Internet services at Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Mukarba Chowk and Nangloi, along with their adjoining areas, till 11.59pm for maintaining ‘public safety’.
Following the clashes, the Congress again hit out at the Modi government for the “collision” with the people over the contentious farm laws and demanded their immediate withdrawal.
In a statement, party general secretary Randeep Surjewala said there is no place for violence in democracy and it is good that agitating farmers have separated themselves from those who have indulged in hooliganism.
“The farmers should make their target clear and non-violence is the root cause of success of this agitation. We hope that this path will make way for withdrawal of farm laws.
“The Congress believes that from the last 61 days, the collision between public and government is not good in democracy, and the government will be compelled come out from its arrogance and listen to the voice of people,” it said.
Meanwhile expressing shock over the violent turn to the farmers agitation, top leaders of Maharashtra ruling coalition slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party terming it as “arrogant, insensitive” to the cause of the peasantry, while appealing for peace and shunning violence.
Holding the Centre responsible for the violence, Nationalist Congress president Sharad Pawar aid it was its duty to maintain law and order and control the situation, but it failed completely.
“For over 60 days, the farmers have been protesting peacefully. They are from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and agitated in a disciplined manner. However, the government did not take them seriously and as their restraint ended, the tractor march was taken out,” he said.
While saying nobody would support what happened in the national capital, Pawar pointed out that the farmers have been repeatedly targeted by the BJP which has even labelled them as ‘terrorists or anti-nationals’ in past few weeks.
The Shiv Sena termed the violent outcome as a result of “intelligence failure” by the Centre which ended in a “national shame for the country” on Republic Day. “What was the government doing when the farmers entered the Red Fort? The whole world has watched something unprecedented.
“The protests were going on peacefully for two months so what has happened does not augur well for the government or the farmers,” Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.
Congress state president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat blamed the “arrogance” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government which led to the violent turn and the loss of one life.

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