Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 26
As thousands of protesting farmers laid siege to the capital on the 72nd Republic Day storming the Red Fort and breaking through the borders into the city, the Government convened a high level emergency meeting to discuss ways of controlling a rampaging mob.
Home Minister Amit Shah is currently chairing the meeting in which Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla is also present along with top Delhi police officials.
As an immediate measure the Home Ministry suspended internet connection around the most volatile Singhu, Tikri and Nangloi areas until midnight on Tuesday.
The meeting was underway even as thousands of farmers broke barricades at Nangloi and entered the city to march towards the Red Fort, where thousands of protesters had reached earlier on Tuesday after breaking barricades, flashing weapons, damaging public property, and threatening to run over cops with speeding tractors.
A farmer from Uttarakhand, Navneet, died when the speeding tractor he was driving turned turtle, said the Delhi police, even as several farmers sat on a dharna at ITO beside the body of the deceased.
Unprecedented scenes of chaos and vandalism erupted across central Delhi on Tuesday as the two month farmer agitation turned violent and went out of control of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body that had promised a peaceful tractor parade on the Republic Day.
The morcha and the Delhi Police had arrived at a 37-point understanding before the tractor parade permission was granted. None of the agreed upon points were honoured, as was clear from the start of the day with the farmers breaking into Delhi from all borders even before the Republic Day parade on Rajpath had concluded.
At Ghazipur Border, thousands of farmers broke into Delhi’s arterial roads and reached ITO intersection right next to the Delhi police headquarters.
The ITO looked like a war zone for hours with farmers on tractors ramming across and many clashing with the police, which lobbed tear gas shells to contain the crowds.
Several protesters defied police appeals not to move towards the Red Fort and stormed the historic structure before hoisting saffron flags aloft the Red Fort in visuals that enraged netizens and commoners alike.
Farm union leader Yogendra Yadav’s video appeal to the farmers to maintain peace and return to the decided route went unheeded.
“If we violate peace, we will not win. We appeal to farmers to return to the path of peace. Do not undermine the peaceful farmers’ protests,” said Yadav as the union leaders washed hands off the protesters.
Another farm union leader Rakesh Tikait alleged he had identified the miscreants and these agitators were part of a political party.
While government ministers condemned the violence and the unfurling of a specific flag at the Red Fort with culture minister Prahlad Patel leading the charge, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said violence was no solution and asked the government to repeal the farm laws against which the farmers have been agitating for over two months now. A host of Congress leaders including Kumari Selja and Sachin Pilot demanded the laws be rescinded.