Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the violence at the Red Fort during the farmers’ massive tractor rally on Republic Day.
Kejriwal was speaking at a “kisan mahapanchayat” or farmers’ conclave in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut city. Several leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party also attended the event. More than 5,000 people were at the conclave, The Indian Express reported.
Kejriwal said: “They orchestrated the incident at the Red Fort. Those who hoisted the flag at Red Fort were BJP workers.” The Delhi chief minister alleged that the protestors, who were unfamiliar with the roads of Delhi, were intentionally shown the wrong path.
A section of protestors had entered the Red Fort on January 26 and hoisted religious flags there. Actor Deep Sidhu was accused of instigating the violence. He was arrested earlier this month.
Kejriwal lashed out the Centre for labelling the farmers anti-nationals and filing false cases against them. He added that even the British did not dare to file sedition cases against the farmers. “You [the BJP] call the farmers terrorists?” Kejriwal said. “There are lakhs of farmers whose sons are at the borders of the country and Delhi.”
The Delhi chief minister hit out at the Centre for authorising the use of force on the farmers. “Batons were rained on the farmers, nails were dug into the ground at protest sites,” he said. “Even the British did not commit such atrocities. The BJP has even left the British behind.”
Kejriwal said that the farmers braved harsh weather conditions while protesting against the agricultural laws for three months. “As many as 250 farmers have died but the government remains indifferent,” he added.
The Delhi chief minister said that the agricultural laws were a “death warrant” for the farmers as they will become labourers on their own land. He added that the farmers’ protest was a “do-or-die battle.”
Kejriwal alleged that governments have been doing injustice to farmers for decades. He said that the BJP had promised to implement the Swaminathan report before the 2014 election, but later said in an affidavit that they will not provide farmers minimum support price.
The farmers’ protest
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for over three months now, seeking the withdrawal of the agricultural laws passed in September.
The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors were arrested in connection with the violence and several are still missing.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate the agricultural sector. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The laws are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.