Farm union leaders on Wednesday distanced themselves from the protestors who had clashed with the Delhi Police and stormed into the historic Red Fort complex a day earlier, ANI reported.
Thousands of protesting farmers poured into Delhi on Tuesday from various points. Clashes had erupted between the police and protestors, resulting in the most violent escalation in two months of a generally peaceful agitation. Some of them had even scaled the walls of Red Fort and hoisted flags on the monument. One protestor was killed, and Delhi Police said over 300 of its officers had been injured across the city.
Bharat Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait blamed a conspiracy against a particular community for Tuesday’s violence. “Those who created violence and unfurled flags at Red Fort will have to pay for their deeds,” he added. “For last two months, a conspiracy is going on against a particular community. This is not a movement of Sikhs, but farmers.”
The BKU leader also alleged that the police had wrongly placed barricades at some places which were approved by them for the tractor rally route, according to PTI. “This was done intentionally to misguide farmers,” Tikait claimed. “This gave antisocial elements the opportunity to enter the tractor rally.”
He also added that people not aware of Delhi routes were driving tractors and hence went off the scheduled course. “Some of them unknowingly deflected towards Red Fort,” Tikait said. “Police guided them to return.”
Several farmers’ bodies have blamed actor Deep Sidhu and gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana for rampaging around Red Fort. Speaking about Sidhu, the BKU leader said he is a Bharatiya Janata Party worker and not a Sikh. “This is a movement of farmers and will remain so,” he added. “Some people will have to leave this place immediately – those who broke barricading will never be a part of the movement,” he added.
SS Pandher of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee alleged that some protestors had joined the protest to defame the farmers’ movement. “We did not plan to unfurl the flags at Red Fort, this was not our programme,” he said. “Deep Sidhu’s photo with the PM has floated, we had already expressed doubt over him.”
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, a defiant Punjab union, was the first to break from the agreed route and also responsible for tearing down barricades at Delhi’s borders, NDTV reported. Another KMSC leader, Satnam Singh Pannu, blamed the BJP of organising the Red Fort violence to tarnish the protests against the farm laws.
“We had declared at the outset that we would take the Outer Ring Road,” Pannu said. “Even the Samyukt Kisan Morcha [the group leading the farmer protests] had also said so, but it backed out later. We broke barricades only when the police stopped us.”
Pannu also blamed Sidhu for the violence at the Red Fort. “Whatever happened at Red Fort is because of Deep Sidhu,” he said. “Why didn’t the police stop him at Red Fort? He is close to the ruling party.”
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha leadership has called a meeting later on Wednesday to discuss the violence. Before their meeting, representatives of 32 Punjab unions will also meet at the Singhu border, a major protest site against the three new farm laws. “The Samkyukta Kisan Morcha will meet around 3 pm on Wednesday and discuss all aspects pertaining to violence that happened during the tractor parade in Delhi,” a farmer leader said.