Two farmers’ groups – the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) and Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan – on Wednesday announced that they were withdrawing from the ongoing agitation against the agricultural laws, ANI reported. Their announcement came a day after violence broke out during the farmers’ massive tractor rally in Delhi.
BKU (Bhanu) President Bhanu Pratap Singh said that he was “deeply pained” by the violence, and called an end to the group’s 58-day agitation at the Chilla border. His group is a faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
After the announcement, some farmers at the protest site were seen removing their tents.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan leader VM Singh also hinted at a rift with other farmers’ groups. “We can’t carry forward a protest with someone whose direction is something else,” Singh said. “I have nothing to do with the protest which is being led by them and over here being represented by Rakesh Tikait [Bharatiya Kisan Union leader] on their behalf.”
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha – a coalition of farmers’ organisations – had also criticised the violence incited by some protestors. “A dirty conspiracy was hatched with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and others against the peaceful struggle of other farmer organizations, who had set up their own separate protest site after 15 days of beginning of this farmers’ agitation,” the organisation said in a statement earlier in the day. “They were not part of the organisations which jointly undertook the struggle.”
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police filed a first information report against six farmer leaders in connection with the violence. They were accused of flouting the conditions laid down by the police for their rally.
The police have also detained around 200 protestors on charges of rioting, damaging public property and attacking its personnel. Twenty-two first information reports were filed in connection with the violence.
The farmers had been prescribed three routes for the tractor rallies, which the Samyukt Kisan Morcha had accepted. The Morcha also agreed to start the rallies after noon on Tuesday in order to avoid interfering with the official Republic Day parade at Rajpath.
However, some farmers found the curtailed route and timings unacceptable. They decided to start early and by 9 am, 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.
One protestor was killed in the clashes. The Delhi Police said over 300 of its officers had been injured across the city. Farmer 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.