Farm bills: Protesters set tractor on fire near India Gate, five arrested
In a security breach, a group of men claiming to be members of the Punjab unit of Youth Congress set a tractor on fire at Rajpath near the India Gate lawns on Monday morning in support of the farmers’ agitation against laws enacted by the central government that they claim will undermine the agricultural sector.
The police arrested five people and a search is underway for others. No one was injured in the incident.
Police said the incident took place around 7.30am when a group of 20-25 men arrived at Rajpath in different vehicles and a truck, on which the tractor was laden.
Witnesses and passersby told the police that the men pushed the tractor out of the truck and set it on fire as it turned over.
“According to people who were present there, the men chanted slogans like Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Bhagat Singh Amar Rahein in support of the farmers’ agitation and were also carrying effigies, which they hung onto the street light poles. They then went live on social media and clicked group pictures with the burning tractor,” said a police officer.
Soon after, a police patrol vehicle arrived at the scene. “Seeing the police, the men who had set the tractor on fire fled. Backup was called and other police vehicles in the area were alerted. Later, the fire was doused and five of the men arrested. The charred remains of the tractor was removed from the road,” said the police officer.
A video of the group setting the tractor on fire was widely circulated on social media. Some policemen who had reached the spot were also seen standing near the tractor that was on fire.
Police said all arrested men are from Punjab. They were identified as Manjot Singh, 36, Sahib, 28, and Sumit Pal, 28, from Mohali, Raman Deep Singh Sindhu, 28, from Mansa and Rahul Kumar, 28, from Ludhiana.
“We had pooled in money to get the tractor. This was a symbolic protest to send a loud and clear message to the government at the Centre that they should talk to farmers,” said Brinder Singh Dhillon, president of the Punjab Youth Congress. “They (Centre) have not just trampled upon the federal structure, but these three legislations will also destroy the farmers of my state,” he added
Deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal said his men had reached the spot in time and the fire was contained before the tractor was completely gutted.