Angry farmers storm historic fort in huge tractor rally in New Delhi

Ruben Fields
January 26, 2021

Farmers on their tractors move towards Delhi after breaking the police barricades at the Singhu border during their rally on Republic Day, in New Delhi. A senior police officer said a total of 86 police personnel were injured in the clashes including 41 at the Red Fort and in the East District. The ITO resembled a war zone with a vehicle being vandalised by angry protesters and shells, bricks and stones littering the wide streets, a testimony to the ugly turn taken by the two-month-long farmers' protests against the agri laws.

Tuesday's violence happened on Republic Day, a national holiday marking 71 years since India's post-colonial constitution took effect.

Delhi Police officials sit on the road in Nangloi to block the area where farmers holding tractor parade have reached.

The protesters broke past the police barriers and snatched the keys of a police bus that was parked to stop them from moving further towards central Delhi. Internet was also shut down in parts of Delhi and neighbouring areas. However, these in-principle agreements were violated completely when thousands of farmers broke the barricades at ITO to proceed to Red Fort.

The protests overshadowed Republic Day celebrations, in which Mr Modi oversaw a traditional lavish parade along ceremonial Rajpath boulevard displaying the country's military power and cultural diversity. - AFP Protesters climb on a dome at the ramparts of the Red Fort as farmers continue to demonstrate against the Indian government's recent agricultural reforms in New Delhi on January 26.

Farmers, wearing distinctive colourful turbans, shouted slogans against PM Modi and what they call his "black laws". "They were driven back to their residences before the farmers reached central Delhi", it said.

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Tens of thousands of them have been striking on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding the laws be repealed.

While Mr Modi has defended them, the laws have been likened to a "death warrant" by farmer groups.

People wore masks and adhered to social distancing as police and military battalions marched along the parade route. Since then, unfazed by overnight chilly winter temperatures they have hunkered down with food and fuel supplies and threatened to besiege the capital until the farm laws are repealed.

At least one farmer reportedly died.

"The farm organisations have a very strong hold", said Ambar Kumar Ghosh, an analyst at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think-tank.

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