Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday hit out at a section of the farmers who hoisted a flag related to the Sikh religion at the Red Fort during Tuesday’s tractor rally. He said that the incident was an “insult” to the national flag, ANI reported
“The manner in which violence took place in Delhi yesterday, it cannot be condemned enough,” Javadekar said. “Action should be against all of those who instigated others. India will not tolerate the manner in which the tricolour was insulted at the Red Fort.”
Javadekar, however, did not mention any specific law or decorum, under which the national flag might have been insulted. Significantly, the Indian flag atop the Red Fort, was not taken down by protestors, as was claimed by some reports.
The information and broadcasting minister also accused the Congress of fueling violence in Tuesday’s rally. “Congress constantly tried to instigate farmers’ agitation,” Javadekar said, in what was the Centre’s first official reaction to Tuesday’s events. “When some farmer leaders had said on 26th [January] that it’s the final match, Punjab government should have monitored the tractors leaving from the state and made preventive arrests of habitual criminals.”
Singling out Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Javadekar said that he was supporting and instigating farmers. He alleged that a similar turn of events took place during last year’s protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act as well, suggesting that agitations began after Congress held a rally on the matter.
Javadekar’s claims were despite the fact that Gandhi and his party compatriots like Shashi Tharoor and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had condemned the violence on Tuesday itself. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmers’ unions also distanced itself from the violence and called the acts “undesirable and unacceptable”.
On Wednesday, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait blamed a conspiracy against a particular community for Tuesday’s violence. 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.
‘BJP conspired to defame farmers,’ says Congress
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the BJP of plotting the infiltration of miscreants in the tractors’ rally to discredit the farmers’ protest.
“Some miscreants were allowed to enter the Red Fort and Delhi Police kept sitting on their chairs,” he said, while addressing a press briefing. “The presence of Deep Sidhu in Red Fort, someone who is close to BJP and a lackey of [Narendra] Modi and [Amit] Shah, was a plot to malign the farmers’ protest.”
Surjewala also blamed an “intelligence failure”, which, he said, resulted in the violence and demanded the sacking of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is in charge of the Delhi Police.
Referring to the Delhi violence in February last year, the Congress leader said: “It is for the second time in less than a year, that under Amit Shah’s leadership, national Capital has been pushed to the brink of unabated, unchecked, uncontrolled violence.”