Farmers, atop tractors, on motorcycles and some on horses, broke barricades to enter the city at least two hours before they were supposed to start the tractor march at noon sanctioned by authorities. Steel and concrete barriers were broken and trailer trucks overturned as pitched battles broke out in several parts of the city. As tension spiralled, a home ministry official said additional paramilitary troops will be deployed. The exact number of additional troops was not known immediately but officials suggested it could be around 1,500 to 2,000 personnel (about 15 to 20 companies).
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Hoping to curb the violence, the ministry also decided to temporarily suspend internet services in parts of Delhi, including Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri and their adjoining areas, for 12 hours from Tuesday noon.
Eclipsing the traditional show of military might at Rajpath, the farmers’ tractor parade that was supposed to be peaceful led to chaos on the streets and never-before scenes the most perhaps being the sight of protesters clambering up the flagpole at the Red Fort to hoist the Nishaan Sahib’, the Sikh religious flag.
Farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the protest at Delhi’s border points to demand a repeal of the farm laws, dissociated themselves from the protests. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, formally called off the tractor parade and appealed to farmers to return to their respective protest sites. The Morcha also alleged that some “antisocial elements” had infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement. In a statement, it 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.