As many as 37 farmer leaders, including Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav and Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Haryana unit President Gurnam Singh Chaduni, have been named in the first information report filed by the Delhi Police in connection with the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally.
The FIR also named social activist Medha Patkar and Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, according to a copy viewed by Scroll.in. Darshan Pal, Rajinder Singh, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Buta Singh Burjgil and Joginder Singh Ugraha were some other leaders named in the FIR.
The case against them was registered under various sections of Indian Penal Code including 147, 148 (related to rioting), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 307 (attempt to murder).
Some of the leaders were accused of flouting the conditions laid down for their demonstration on Republic Day. The Delhi Police had prescribed three routes for the tractor rallies, which the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella group of farmer unions, had accepted. The Morcha also agreed to start the rallies after noon in order to avoid interfering with the official Republic Day parade at Rajpath. But some farmers found the curtailed route and timings unacceptable. They decided to start early – and by 9 am on Tuesday – protestors began to dismantle barricades to reach Delhi’s Ring Road.
The situation escalated when the police responded by using tear-gas and batons on the protestors. The most dramatic scenes of the day emerged at the ITO area, where the protestors and police came face to face. Angry by the police action, thousands of farmers stormed into the Red Fort complex. Some of them scaled the walls of the fort and hoisted other flags next to the tricolour.
By evening one protestor was killed, internet services were suspended in many parts, and the Delhi Police said over 300 of its officers had been injured across the city. Farm leaders, who had promised their march would be peaceful, distanced themselves from the violence and appealed to the protestors to return to the campsites at the Capital’s borders.
The next day, the Delhi Police detained around 200 protestors on charges of rioting, damaging public property and attacking its personnel. Twenty-two first information reports were lodged in connection with the violence, the police said.
Tuesday’s violence was ‘dirty conspiracy’, say farm leaders
As police action against the protestors continued, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Wednesday reiterated that they had nothing to do with the violence, alleging that a “dirty conspiracy was being hatched” against farmers to malign their movement.
In a statement, the farmers body said that most of the farmer unions, who are part of the ongoing agitation against the new farm laws, held a meeting to discuss the events that unfolded during the tractor rally. The concerned organisations concluded that the Centre has been “severely shaken by this peasant agitation”, the coalition of farmer bodies said.
“Therefore, a dirty conspiracy was hatched with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and others against the peaceful struggle of other farmer organisations, who had set up their own separate protest site after 15 days of beginning of this farmers’ agitation,” the statement added. “They were not part of the organisations which jointly undertook the struggle.”