While farmers continue their dharna (sit-in protest) undeterred along various border points along Delhi, many farmer leaders are reeling in the aftermath of the Republic Day tractor rally that went awry due to the interruption by external elements. The Delhi Police have sprung into action, ready to book farmer leaders owing to the violence on January 26.
Attempt to clear protest sites
Meanwhile, UP administration, with the determination to clear out protest sites along the Delhi border, deployed the Rapid Action Force (RAF) along with a huge police force but farmers refused to vacate the protest site. The UP government even reportedly ordered all DMs and SSPs to ensure that all farmer protest sites be cleared out.
Interestingly, the deployed forces cleared themselves out from the Ghazipur protest site shortly after midnight.
While speaking to the press, Rakesh Takait, President of BKU, broke down and said that he will die here but not end the protest. He also alleged there is a conspiracy to kill the protesting farmers
चौधरी महेंद्र सिंह टिकैत के बेटे और मेरे छोटे भाई राकेश टिकैत के ये आँसू व्यर्थ नहीं जाएंगे। कल सुबह महापंचायत होगी और अब हम इस आंदोलन को निर्णायक स्थिति तक पहुंचा कर ही दम लेंगे। pic.twitter.com/gSaqoi4xzk
— Naresh Tikait (@NareshTikait_) January 28, 2021
Twitter was full of videos being shared by people moving towards Ghazipur in support of the farmers, against the heavy armed deployment at the site. After the tearful appeal by Takait, the farmers movement seems to have strengthened with an increasing number of people joining the protests, the numbers swelling by the hour at the protest site. Reportedly, the farmers already at the protest site already started preparing langar as the news of approaching protesters reached them.
Tikait took to the stage to announce that more people are coming in at Ghazipur and stated that arrangements for drinking water are being made for them and appealed to protestors to sit peacefully and protest peacefully.
Rakesh Tikait addresses media at midnight in #Ghazipur
Claiming that more people are beginning to arrive at the protest site. Arrangements are being made for them. Appeals for peaceful protest.@IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/tHBsIeAEpH
— Amil Bhatnagar (@AmilwithanL) January 28, 2021
Throughout the night, the number of protestors at Ghazipur kept soaring and social media, specifically Twitter was rife with videos from the site of the growing number of protesters chanting slogans in support of farmers including “Jai Jawan Jai kisan” and “Kisan ekta zindabad”.
In a press note released by Delhi Police it is stated that the Special cell is investigating the “conspiracy and criminal designs” behind the January 26 violence. The note further states that a criminal case is being registered under Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA) and some sections of IPC dealing with sedition as also conduct of organizations and individuals based in India as well as outside are being probed.
“A preliminary assessment suggests there was a pre-conceived and well co-ordinated plan to break the agreement reached between Delhi Police and leaders of farmers organisations to indulge in violent confrontation with security forces, to breach the sanctity of iconic and historical structures/monuments and to create an international embarrassment for the government on the occasion of Republic Day,” said the press note.
The Delhi Police have registered around 25 FIRs against, which includes several farmer leaders such as Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) spokespersons, Rakesh Takait president BKU, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president, BKU (Sidhupur), Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, BKU (Rajewal), Darshan Pal, president, Krantikari Kisan Union, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha,; Yogendra Yadav, president, Swaraj Party India.
“The rioters/ protesters and their leaders had a pre-planned objective of not following the mutually agreed route” because of which the violence took place, says the FIR. “We have arrested 19 and detained 50 people in connection with the violence during the farmers’ tractor rally. We are using the facial recognition system and taking the help of CCTV and video footage to identify the accused. Those involved in the violence will not be spared and the farmer leaders will be questioned,” Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava told Indian Express.
Support from international diaspora
United States based Boston South Asian Coalition, an inter-generational South Asian-led organising collective working towards gender & racial equity, economic justice and human rights, issued a statement in support of the protesting farmers especially after the January 26 incident. The BSAC has condemned the violence the police in Delhi unleashed upon the farmers while farmers were exercising their right to protest. The statement lauded the integrity shown by farmers who demonstrated superb organisation and resolve and “brought their instruments of production as a show of strength against a government acting at the behest of parasitic capitalists like Ambani and Adani”