Despite permisions, Delhi police turn violent against farmers

The protesting farmers have received no cooperation from the Delhi police despite court orders.

Credit : BBC News

As the historic tractor rally commenced in the national capital today against the three controversial farm laws, the protesting farmers have received no cooperation from the Delhi police despite court orders. "The entire nation was notified about the rally well in advance. So, why did they not remove the barricades earlier? When the farmers started removing the barricades, the media framed them as violent protesters," said Kamal Singh Mann, an affiliate of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

The Union Government, on recommendations of the Delhi Police, had assigned a fixed route to the protesting farmers for the tractor rally. The farmers' unions agreed to this route and had started preparations accordingly. However, it seemed that the Delhi police didn't want to cooperate with the farmers, Mann said. While some of the roads were blocked with barricades, some other entry points to Delhi, like Ghazipir, were blocked with large containers, trucks, buses or cement blocks. "If we had received the permission, why was the Delhi Police intervening and trying to stop us?" questioned Mann.

According to our sources, instead of the usual four to five layers of barricades, the Delhi police now had only one or two layers of barricades, which was unnecessary since the court had approved the rally. Ahead of the rally, the farmers were trying to move the barricades, so that there won't be any delay. "But the officials started crying foul by saying farmers are trying to start the rally ahead of the schedule," the source said.

The mainstream media has also forwarded the narrative that the farmers' unions were following the old route, instead of the one that was mutually agreed on. However, according to Vibhu Grover, a photographer who has followed the protests since November, "Only one union has said they will march on Outer Ring Road, all others will be following the DP (Delhi Police) route. Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee will only be going for the old route."

Moreover, the farmers have also been accused of being violent and attacking the Delhi police. However, reports say that the Delhi police attacked the farmers with tear gas shells when the farmers were trying to remove the barricades. In retaliation, the farmers picked up the same gas shells and hurled them at the police.

As the protests continue, a farmer has lost his life when the protesting farmers clashed with Delhi police at ITO.

In the latter half of the day, the rally went off track and the farmers marched towards Red Fort where they hoisted the sacred flag of Sikhs in a flagpole next to the country's national flag. The doggedly-protesting farmers were soon lathi charged by the police, and were asked to leave Red Fort immediately.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha has said that some "anti-social elements" have infiltrated the tractor rally and farmers' protests. "We dissociate ourselves from all such elements that have violated our discipline. We appeal strongly to everyone to stick to the route and the norms of the parade, and not indulge in any violent action that taints national symbols and dignity," they said.

Meanwhile, the internet has been cut off in parts of Delhi until 11:59 pm on January 26th. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held a meeting to review the suspension of the internet, and discuss the deployment of more paramilitary forces in the city, NDTV has reported. The farmers have also announced yesterday that they will be marching to the Parliament on February 1.