Indian farmers breach barricades in Republic Day tractor rally

Joanna Estrada
January 26, 2021

The protesters were later removed from the premises of the Red Fort.

"Our word should travel around the world, that we are fighting for our living", said Devinder Singh, a 36-year-old farmer from Punjab, seated on his tractor.

Police fired teargas shells to try and stop thousands of farmers who knocked down police barricades at Singhu border and entered Delhi on foot on Tuesday morning amid huge police presence ahead of a tractor rally permitted after the Republic Day parade at the iconic Rajpath.

Hundreds also gathered outside the Delhi police headquarters and fought with officers.

Farmers, angry at what they see as laws that help large, private buyers at the expense of producers, have been camped outside Delhi for nearly two months.

The government had opposed the farmers' rally, saying it would be an "embarrassment for the nation" on such an important day.

According to a report in the Economic Times, Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea have been asked to suspend internet services in Delhi-NCr region "following a home ministry directive" in the wake of the now ongoing farmers' protests in the Capital.

Modi was driven back to his residence barely 30 minutes before the farmers took over the city centre.

Earlier, tens of thousands of bearded and turbanned farmers, many bundled against the winter cold, began the day by driving a convoy of tractors festooned with the Indian tricolour and the flags of their unions through the city fringe.

People residing close to farmers protest sites said that they are getting SMSes for suspension of internet service in their area. He says police is cooperating with farmers and they should do the same.

The protests have so far been peaceful, and farm leaders have urged rally participants to refrain from violence.

Leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is the joint front of all unions protesting against the three agricultural reform laws, had agreed to these conditions. Elsewhere people cheered and applauded as the farmers went past waving Indian flags and blowing horns.

Modi has tried to allay farmers' fears by mostly dismissing their concerns and has repeatedly accused opposition parties of agitating them by spreading rumors.

The government has offered to freeze implementation of the reforms for 18 months, but several rounds of talks between unions and ministers have failed to end the deadlock.

Smaller demonstrations were also held Tuesday in Mumbai and Bangalore, and in the rural state of Haryana. - AP Activists and farmers take part in a protest as they continue to demonstrate in Bangalore on Jan 26.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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