Farmer leaders address a gathering at Tikri border on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)
Farmer leaders address a gathering at Tikri border on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

Infiltrators defamed our stir: Farmers at Tikri site

  • On Tuesday, a group of farmers who started the tractor march from the Tikri border broke police barricades to veer away from the agreed-upon route between the farm unions and Delhi Police.
By Fareeha Iftikhar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 12:53 AM IST

A day after clashes broke out between the police and groups of farmers from the Tikri border during a planned tractor parade that took a violent turn, agitators at the protest site insisted that those who indulged in the incident were “infiltrators” sent to “defame and derail” their movement against three contentious new farm laws.

On Tuesday, a group of farmers who started the tractor march from the Tikri border broke police barricades to veer away from the agreed-upon route between the farm unions and Delhi Police. The police resorted to a lathi charge and fired tear gas shells to stop the farmers, but sporadic clashes and stand-offs continued between them till late evening at Nangloi Chowk.

Hundreds of tractors managed to break the barricades and marched to Red Fort.

A day later, the protesting farmers at the Tikri border alleged that those involved in the clashes were not part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of farm unions that has been leading the agitation at the Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur entry points to the Capital for 63 days.

Jaswant Singh, a member of one of the unions, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kadiya), said: “It is questionable how the police installed the barricades only at one place (Nangloi in west Delhi) to stop the protesters. Besides, how is it even possible that adequate security was not deployed at the Red Fort on Republic Day? It all shows that the government wanted this to happen to divert the attention of people and defame our movement.”

Rajvinder Singh, 22, another volunteer at the protest site, said that he was among those who were given the charge of maintaining “discipline” during the tractor march. “Our leaders had announced that we should start the march only after 11am, as suggested by the police. But a group, which was carrying flags of different farm unions, started breaking the police barricades at around 8:30am, and moved ahead. We ran for over 10 kilometres to stop them, but they did not listen to us. I did not recognise them. I think they were trying to reach the Nangloi Chowk before the real protesters in order to complete the task assigned to them,” Singh said.

To be sure, the farm unions were responsible for ensuring the protests were peaceful and did not resort to violence or desecration of national symbols, and the onus of Tuesday’s mayhem rests with them. Even the Samyukt Kisan Morcha accepted this at a media briefing at Singhu on Wednesday evening, when it took “moral responsibility” for the violence.

Through Wednesday, several farmer leaders called for “peace” and “discipline” from a stage set up at the site.

“There are attempts to break the unity of farmers but we won’t let that happen. They (police) also provoked some of our youngsters and made them do whatever happened on Tuesday. We should not let that happen again. I request you all to only follow the directions issued by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and not by people who do Facebook Live from Red Fort displaying their shameful deeds,” said a farmer leader Jiya Lal, addressing the crowd from the stage.

His reference appeared to be to Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, who was part of the mob that led the hoisting of the Nishan Sahib flag at Red Fort, and whom the unions blame for matters getting out of hand.

Joginder Singh, the president of another prominent farm group, BKU (Ugrahan), alleged that Tuesday’s incident was a part of a “larger conspiracy” and requested farmers not to get disheartened by it.

“Those who travelled to Red Fort and hoisted several religious flags they were not part of any farmer group,” he said.

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