Farmers take part in a tractor rally to protest against farm laws on the occasion of India's Republic Day in Delhi, India, January 26, 2021. (Image: Reuters)
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an amalgam of over 30 unions leading the stir against Centre's farm laws, condemned the violence at farmers' tractor rally. In a statement issued following the clashes and chaos, the farmers' body accused "anti-social elements" of infiltrating their movement.
"Anti-social elements had infiltrated the otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength, and that any violation would hurt the movement," the statement said.
Farmers participating in the tractor rally deviated from the police-assigned route, and stormed towards central Delhi's ITO.
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Video clips shared by news agencies showed the rally participants clashing with the cops, and also chasing policemen using their tractors at ITO. A farmer reportedly died in the area after the tractor he was driving overturned.
Shortly after the farmers entered the national capital, nearly 20 tractors rushed towards the Red Fort. Hundreds of farmers entered the fort and raised their flags from its ramparts - the site from where the prime minister delivers his annual Independence Day address.
"We condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place today and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts," the statement of Samyuta Kisan Morcha said.
"Despite all our efforts, some organisations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts," it added.
"The long struggle for more than 6 months now, and more than 60 days of protest at Delhi borders also seemed to have led to this situation," the Morcha further said, while adding that it would completely "dissociate" itself from elements responsible for the violence.
The tractor rally, called on the occasion of Republic Day, was aimed at pressuring the government to withdraw the three farm reform laws.
The rally, as per the police permit, was to start from Tikri border and move towards Nangloi. It was further scheduled to be taken through Baprola Village-Najafgarh-Jharoda border and Rohtak bypass before terminating at Asoda toll plaza.
The protesters, however, entered into central Delhi's ILO leading to chaos and clashes with the cops. The police force was also compelled to use tear gas shells in some parts of central Delhi to disperse the protesters.
Following the clashes, a number of roads were closed in the national capital, telecom services were restricted and internet connection was temporarily suspended in some parts of Delhi-NCR
. The entry and exit gates of several metro stations were also sealed to prevent the galvanisation of protesters.