Tractor rally: Centre to tackle violence with iron fist

Farmers tractor rally: Centre to use iron fist to deal with violence

After violence at the the January 26 tractor rally rocked the national capital, the Centre dropped indications that it would deal with violators with an iron fist

Policemen stand guard in front of the historic Red Fort after Tuesday's clashes between police and farmers, in the old quarters of Delhi. Credit: Reuters Photo

A day after violence ensued during a tractor rally called by farmers protesting against the government's three contentious farm laws, the Centre dropped indications that it would use an iron fist to deal with the violence. The police have registered FIRs against a number of leaders including key faces of the farmer protest.

Besides Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, those named in the cases are — farmer leaders Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal, Buta Singh,  Rajinder Singh, Balbir Singh Rajewal and Joginder Singh Ugraha. Delhi Police which is managed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs registered 22 FIRs so far for the violence during the protest, in which Delhi Police claimed over 300 policemen were injured.

Also Read | FIR against farmer leader Rakesh Tikait over violence during tractor parade

The police have also detained 200 people in connection with the violence.

The cases investigated by the Crime Branch of Delhi police invoke sections 395 (dacoity), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 120 b (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and others.

Delhi top cops also briefed Home Minister Amit Shah, who huddled into a high-level meeting to review the security scenario.

In the eye of the storm was particularly the hoisting of a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort, which evoked wide condemnation from all quarters following which Culture and Tourism Minister Pralhad Patel sought a report on the incident and also made a personal visit to the iconic fort to assess the damage caused to the ASI-protected structure by a section of protesters who stormed the monument and hoisted the 'Nishan Sahib', a flag is closely connected to the Sikh religion.

After inspecting Red Fort with officers of his ministry and ASI, Patel asked for a comprehensive report on the matter at the earliest, which will be sent to the Home Ministry and registration of an FIR into the matter. Heavy police deployment continued at the Red Fort even on Wednesday even as farmer unions last evening called off their tractor rally.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha was quick to distance from the events that transpired and saw a conspiracy behind the incident where the youth Deep Sidhu hoisted the 'Nishan Sahib' at the Red Fort.

Also Read | Farmer Unions allege anti-social elements tried to ‘torpedo' peaceful protests, slams govt, actor Deep Sidhu

Social media was viral with photos and news of Sidhu being close to some BJP leaders, an allegation which farmer leaders also repeated. BJP MP Sunny Deol, however, clarified that he or his family members have no links with actor Deep Sidhu who was among protesters at the Red Fort. Users on social media also posted pictures of Sidhu with Deol. Sidhu was an aide of Deol when the latter contested from the Gurdaspur seat in Punjab during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Sidhu later in a Facebook post claimed the act of hoisting the 'Nishan Sahib' flag, a symbol of Sikh religion, was not a planned move and that those involved in the incident should not be given a communal colour or dubbed as fundamentalists or hardliners.

Meanwhile, top officials of Delhi police also visited Red Fort to assess the situation.

The police in the FIRs said six Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and five police vehicles and 70 iron barricades were damaged in the violence that rocked the national capital on Tuesday during the farmers' protest.

Also Read | Extremists in garb of food providers: BJP's Sambit Patra on violence during farmers' protest

BJP leaders have been maintaining that the actions of protesters at the Red Fort insulted a symbol of India's democracy and went to the extent of calling them "extremists".

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said that action will be taken against those involved in the Red Fort incident. He also condemned the violence at the monument.

"Unfurling a flag other than our Tiranga at the Red Fort is an attack on Indian Republic & Democracy," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, advocate Vishal Tiwari filed a plea in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, demanding setting up of a commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, to inquire into the violence during the tractor rally and direct the authorities to lodge an FIR against the individuals or organisations responsible for it. The advocate also asked for the commission to inquire into those who caused dishonour of the National Flag on January 26.