Tractor parade: Farmers start returning to protest sites on Delhi’s borders

New Delhi: After hours of chaos during their tractor parade in Delhi against the Centre’s new agri laws on Tuesday, thousands of protesting farmers, including those at the Red Fort and Mukarba Chowk, started returning to their sit-in sites at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. 

Wielding sticks and clubs and holding the tricolour and union flags, tens of thousands of farmers atop tractors broke barriers, clashed with police and entered the city from various points to lay siege to the Red Fort and climb the flagpole on Republic Day on Tuesday.

A protesting farmer died at Delhi’s ITO after his tractor overturned. The farmers draped the body in the tricolour and kept it at the ITO crossing, not allowing the police to send it for post-mortem.

Police also had to use lathicharge and teargas shells to control unruly protesters at multiple locations in the city.

“There is no protesting farmer at ITO crossing and the situation is under control,” an official said.

 However, there were still around 500 protesting farmers in the Red Fort till Tuesday late evening while at Mukarba Chowk, hundreds of farmers started moving back to the Singhu border points, another official said.

Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in multiple places, leading to chaos in well known landmarks of Delhi and suburbs, amid waves of violence that ebbed and flowed through the day, leaving the farmers’ two-month peaceful movement in tatters.

Farmers’ union body Samyukta Kisan Morcha disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence during the tractor parade and alleged that some “antisocial elements” infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.

The union also condemned and regretted the “undesirable” and “unacceptable” events as the parade turned violent after several groups of farmers deviated from the pre-decided route for the march.

Later in the day, the Morcha called off the tractor parade by farmers and appealed to participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites.

“We have called off the farmers’ Republic Day parade with immediate effect and appealed to all participants to immediately return back to their respective protest sites. The movement will continue peacefully and further steps will be discussed and decided soon,” the farmers’ union body said in a statement.

 Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since November 28, demanding a complete repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.