New Delhi: Thousands of farmers knocked down police barricades and entered Delhi on foot this morning amid huge police presence as they kicked off their tractor rally against the government’s new agricultural laws. With chaos unfolding near the city’s borders, protesters were baton-charged and tear gas shells were fired by policemen.
As India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day, farmers were allowed to hold their tractor rally – “Kisaan Parade” – after the main event at the iconic Rajpath. However, crowds swelled at the borders at around 8 AM before the annual celebrations started.
In unprecedented visuals, chaos could be seen unfolding at the Singhu border, which divides Delhi and Haryana, and Tikri border in the western part of the national capital. Thousands were seen marching with flags; many of them were also on tractors.
A dramatic video from Delhi’s Akshardham showed policemen firing tear gas shells from an overbridge as protesters on road looked for cover.
More than 5,000 protesters had gathered this morning near the Singhu border, the epicentre of the agitation against the new farm laws that began late November.
At Tikri, farmers’ leaders asked the protesters to maintain calm after the march began at around 9 AM. “Our rally will be peaceful and we will stick to the routes assigned,” a leader told NDTV.
On Sunday, Delhi Police had allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”
However, Delhi Police had also sounded a warning. “Mischievous elements can create a law-and-order situation,” Deependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), said.