Delhi gets stormed by thousands of farmers on republic day

Wednesday – January 27, 2021
NEW DELHI (India): Thousands of farmers knocked down police barricades and entered Delhi, Tuesday, amid huge police presence and hoisted Khalistani flag on the famous red fort, on Indian republic day, as they kicked off their tractor rally against the Indian prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi government’s agricultural reform laws.

According to Kashmir Media Service (KMS), the Delhi police hit protesters with batons and fired teargas to try to disperse the crowds after hundreds of thousands of farmers, many on tractors and horses, marched on the Indian capital.

The mobile internet services were suspended in many areas of New Delhi while some metro stations were closed.

Violence erupted all across Delhi after the protestors, majority of them Sikhs, entered from routes that were not permitted by the Delhi police.

Several people have been reportedly injured in the clashes between the protesters and the police.

The protesting farmers also raised Khalistan flags during the rallies in other areas of New Delhi.

Some cops were injured while trying to stop the protesters.

A farmer from Punjab, Diljender Singh, while standing on the ramparts of the red fort held aloft the flag of Khalistan.

“We have been protesting for the last 6 months but government didn’t bother to listen to us,” Singh said and added, “our ancestors have charged this fort several times in history” asserting “This was a message to the government that we can do it again and more than this if our demands are not met.”

Tens of thousands of farmers began camping on the outskirts of the capital since November 2020, protesting against new agricultural laws.

The Indian authorities had agreed to let the farmers stage a tractor rally as long as they waited for the official republic day parade to finish. But flag-waving protesters on at least four major arteries climbed over and pushed aside the barricades and concrete blocks and pressed on into the capital city.

Some protesters even managed to reach a junction about two miles from where the Indian PM Modi and other government leaders watched tanks/troops parade and fighter jets fly.

Indian PM Modi waved to protesting crowds and was driven back to his residence before any personal confrontation with the farmers, the biggest challenge his Hindu nationalist government has faced in its 6 years in power.

Jaspal Singh, 50, a farmer from Gurdaspur district in Punjab, said nothing will break the resolve of the protesting farmers. “No matter how much force the Modi government uses we are not going to succumb,” he said and added, “the government is trying to give a bad name to farmers by planting their men among the protesters to do violence” promising “But we are going to take this agitation ahead peacefully.”

For more than two months, tens of thousands of farmers have been stationed in a huge protest camp around the peripheries of Delhi to demonstrate their fierce opposition to a series of new farm laws, which they say will destroy their livelihoods, offer no protection for crop prices and leave them at greater risk of losing their land.

Singh is among those who have camped out at the Delhi border. “I have promised my family and my villagers that I will not return home till the laws are repealed,” he said.

Agriculture employs more than 40 percent of India’s population but it is a sector plagued by poverty and inefficiency, with farmers often selling their crops for one rupee.

Rates of farmer suicides in India are among the highest in the world.

Farmers say their plight has been ignored for decades and that the changes, aiming at bringing private investment into agriculture, will only put farmers at the mercy of large corporations.

Malkeet Singh, 60, from the Mansa area of Punjab, said it was “now or never” as he walked alongside thousands of fellow protesting farmers. “If we do not protest right now against these black laws, our children will die of hunger. We will not go back until the laws are reversed,” said Singh, who had walked 22 miles to reach the protest site.

The farmers say the new laws were introduced with no consultation and have demanded their complete repeal. The 9 rounds of negotiations with the government failed to reach an agreement.

The issue has now been raised with the Indian Supreme Court, which suspended the laws and established a special committee to attempt to sort the deadlock.

However, farmers’ leaders said they will not cooperate with the committee, accusing the panel of being too pro-government.

Last week, farmers rejected an offer by the Indian PM Modi government to suspend the laws for 18 months, saying they will settle for nothing other than a complete repeal.

The Indian PM Modi regime had attempted to get the Supreme Court to halt the tractor protest, saying it will be “an embarrassment to the nation”.