A security person at Red Fort takes off the Nishan Sahib flag that was hoisted there on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A security person at Red Fort takes off the Nishan Sahib flag that was hoisted there on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Cops register 25 cases after violence on Republic Day

  • Trouble began on Tuesday after a section of protesters deviated from the routes agreed upon with the Delhi Police and began their tractor rally before scheduled time.
By karn pratap singh
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 04:43 AM IST

The Delhi Police have registered over 25 cases, including those of rioting and criminal conspiracy, in connection with the violence that erupted during a tractor rally by farmers in the Capital on Republic Day, officials said on Wednesday. The officials added that 19 people were arrested and about 50 detained.

One of the FIRs — filed on Tuesday — mentions Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, social activist Medha Patkar and Bharatiya Kisan Union-Tikait (BKU-Tikait) leader Rakesh Tikait among 37 leaders of the protest who had “a pre-planned objective of not following the mutually agreed route and timing of their rally” and “disrupting the Republic Day parade”.

To be sure, these 37 people were not named as accused in the case registered at Samaipur Badli police station on a complaint by inspector Anil Kumar. They were identified as those being involved in multiple rounds of talks with the government and the police, and also those who issued threats to break barricades.

Trouble began on Tuesday after a section of protesters deviated from the routes agreed upon with the Delhi Police and began their tractor rally before scheduled time.

“I have yet not received any intimation from the police regarding the FIR. This (FIR) is nothing new for us who have been part of many movements in the country in the past decades. Whenever their (the government) violence gets exposed, they hold non-violent people accountable for it. I believe that state-planted persons instigated the violence, while all the leaders of this farmers’ agitation have always remained peaceful and followed every conditions of the agreement we had with the police,” said Patkar, adding that she was with Yadav at the Shahjahanpur border during the violence that broke out in Delhi.

Yadav said he could not comment on the development since he had not seen the FIR. Speaking to news agency PTI on Tuesday, Yadav said he was “ashamed of the way things proceeded” and took responsibility for it. He said “violence impacts any kind of protest in a wrong way, and that he “appealed continuously” so that farmers did not deviate from the routes agreed upon.

Dharmendra Malik, a spokesperson for BKU-Tikait alleged that the government was “misusing” its powers by registering FIRs against farmers and farm leaders. “But we are not scared of the cases and our agitation against the three farm laws will continue peacefully,” he said.

The FIR that mentioned their names also said “the protesters were riding on tractors, trollies, and even horses”, and that most of them were “carrying sticks, iron rods, and some of them were also carrying swords”. It added that the protesters “started rioting, causing injuries with swords and lathis and running the tractors over the police officials with the intent to kill”. It also mentioned that the protesters “robbed a pistol with 10 rounds and two gas guns” from police personnel.

Another FIR mentioned Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana.

The 25-plus cases were registered between Tuesday and Wednesday at police stations across at least nine police districts, where violence erupted during the tractor rally.

At least 394 police personnel and 10 farmers were injured as the Capital plunged into chaos and clashes broke out at the Red Fort, ITO and Ghazipur, among other places. A 25-year-old farmer died when his tractor overturned after crashing a police barricade near ITO.

A majority of the cases were registered for rioting, causing hurt by dangerous weapons, and obstructing police from doing their duty, among other sections. Police also filed some of the cases under sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder, and attempt to culpable homicide.

In an FIR registered in connection with the ITO violence, police were probing protesters for allegedly destroying CCTVs on the road. A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to investigate all the cases.

In an FIR registered at the IP Estate police station for the ITO clashes, officials mentioned how nearly 10,000 protesters on tractors reached the key intersection, broke barricades using their tractors, and dismantled the central verge railing. It also mentioned the firing of tear gas shells by police, and a tractor driver “driving rashly and dangerously with intent to kill police personnel”. He died after his vehicle toppled outside the Andhra Education Society school. Police identified him as Navreet Singh from Bilaspur in Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing a press conference in the city, Delhi Police commissioner SN Shrivastava said farmer unions did not follow conditions set for the rally that was supposed to be held from 12pm to 5pm.

“Police had many options but remained calm. We dealt with the situation in a proper way that is why no one was killed due to police action during the tractor rally violence,” the commissioner told reporters.

“We are using the facial recognition system and taking the help of CCTV and video footage to identify the accused. Strict action will be taken against those identified. No culprit will be spared,” he said.

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