Left with no option: Centre defends police crackdown on farmers
The central government on Tuesday defended the police crackdown on farmers protesting against new agricultural laws. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, the Union Home Ministry said that the Delhi Police had been left with "no option" but to use teargas, water cannons, and mild force against the protesting farmers on Republic Day (January 26). Here are more details.
Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said in his reply that "large convoys of protesting farmers in tractor trolleys tried to furiously force their way and go past police barricades to enter Delhi," citing reports by the police. Reddy said the protesters resorted to rioting, vandalism, and injured on-duty police personnel. They were also not following COVID-19 appropriate behavior, he added.
Reddy said, "They aggressively resorted to rioting, damage to government property, and used criminal force to deter public servants from the discharge of their duty, thereby inflicting injuries to the on-duty police personnel." He added, "The farmers' actions left the Delhi Police with no option but to use tear gas, water cannons, and mild force to control the crowd."
Reddy said the Delhi Police has registered 39 cases against the farmers protesting on the outskirts of Delhi between September to December 2020. He said one case of suicide has been reported to them during protests when at least four have been reported in the news. He also did not specifically respond to another question inquiring about evidence that "terrorists infiltrated the farm agitation."
After two months of camping on Delhi's borders, the protesting farmers had decided to stage a tractor rally on R-Day. They had agreed to a plan for the rally, however, they broke police barricades, launching the rally early, and changed their route. The police resorted to teargas shelling and baton charging the protesters. Some protesters breached the Red Fort and hoisted a Sikh flag.
Separately, when asked about increased barricading at Delhi's borders, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava was quoted as saying by ANI, "I'm surprised that when tractors were used, police were attacked, barricades were broken on January 26, no questions were raised. We've just strengthened barricading so it's not broken again." Shrivastava's department has been under fire for increased security at Delhi's Ghazipur and Tikri borders.