Tractor rally violence: Medha Patkar, Yogendra Yadav among 37 named in FIR

New Delhi (IANS): The Delhi Police have named 37 farmer leaders, including Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav, social activist Medha Patkar and Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Haryana unit President Gurnam Singh Chanduni, in the First Information Report (FIR) filed in connection with the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally on Tuesday.

Avik Saha, Jai Kisan Aandolan and Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait along with Darshan Pal Singh, Satnam Singh Pannu, Boota Singh Burjgil and Joginder Singh Ugraha have also been named in the FIR.

The case against them was registered under various sections of Indian Penal Code including 147, 148 (related to rioting), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 307 (attempt to murder).

According to official figures, 394 policemen were injured in the violence. Most of them are hospitalised while some are in the ICU. More than 25 criminal cases have been registered, 19 people have been arrested and as many as 50 protesters detained.

A day after pitched clashes between farmers and police as the tractor parade drove into areas other than those permitted, Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Shrivastava on Wednesday said that it was a breach of trust by the protesters and those involved in the violence would not be spared.

He said that the police has collected video evidence including CCTV footage and other camera and mobile recordings and the process of identification of those indulging in violence has started. More than 25 criminal cases have been registered, 19 people arrested and as many as 50 protesters detained.

The Delhi Police chief said that after five rounds of talks with the farmers, three routes were suggested to farmers for the tractor rally from Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders. However, the farmers violated the agreement and moved on routes which were not designated.

As the R-Day parade was also being held, so for the security of the people, some terms and conditions were set such as the farmers’ leaders were to lead the rally, no weapons were allowed to be carried and not more than 5,000 protesters were to be allowed. However, some farmers leaders violated the agreement and went ahead with the rally before the scheduled time of 12 noon on January 26, he said.

Shrivastava said that some “aggressive elements” led the protest and created ruckus and violence.

“The violent protesters broke the barricades and reached Mukarba Chowk and their leaders, Satnam Singh Pannu and Darshan Pal Singh sat there and did not move to the designated route. Pannu also gave a provocative speech there and instigated the protesters to break barricades,” he said.

Other farmer leaders including Buta Singh also indulged in violence, police said, while at Gazipur border, Rakesh Tikait along with other protesters also indulged in violence and moved ahead.

According to official figures, 394 policemen were injured in the violence. Most of them are hospitalised while some are in ICU.

On being asked about Deep Sidhu, the Punjabi actor’s role in the violence at Red Fort, the Police Commissioner said anyone who is found involved will not be spared and would be strictly dealt with.

“The Delhi Police maintained utmost restraint during the violent protest and that is evident from the fact that no one died in police action,” Shrivastava said.

He said that Delhi Police has taken serious note of the Red Fort violence and everyone found involved would be taken to task. He also said that face recognition system would be uised to identify those found involved in the violence.

On intelligence failure, he said that the Delhi Police was getting all intelligence inputs and were working on it. In the process, the police team also collected input on 308 malicious Twitter handles created to disrupt the rally.

MEANWHILE, the Opposition is gearing up to formulate a joint strategy to corner the government on the farm laws during the upcoming Budget Session of the Parliament, especially following the violent clashes which broke out between the police and the protesting farmers in the heart of the national capital after the latter’s proposed tractor rally on Republic Day went awry.

The joint Opposition meet is set to be convened after the Presidential address and ahead of the presentation of the Budget, though no date has been finalised yet.

Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi is speaking to the leaders of the opposition parties to convene the meeting through video conferencing, sources said.

The Congress is reaching out to all the like-minded parties to press the government for repealing the farm laws passed in September last year, which have become the bone of contention between the farmers and the government as many rounds of talks between the two sides have failed to break the deadlock.

After Tuesday’s clashes, the Opposition is up in arms, alleging that hooligans had created ruckus in the national capital in connivance with the government.

The Congress, DMK, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Left have backed the farmers’ agitation while the Shiv Sena too has supported the farmers’ demand. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have also demanded the repealing of the three farm laws.

The CPI-M on Wednesday issued a statement which said, “The Politburo of the CPI(M) once again calls upon the Central government to immediately announce repealing of these laws and move towards this end in the forthcoming Budget Session of the Parliament.”

Akali Dal, which was part of the NDA alliance before breaking ties over the farmers’ issue, is also reaching out to the like-minded parties to boycott the all-party meet to be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

On January 19, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had passed three resolutions, including one demanding the withdrawal of the three farm laws.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal said, “The CWC noted that these three laws impinge upon the Constitutional rights of states and constitute the first step in dismantling the three pillars of the edifice of food security built over the past decades — MSP, public procurement and PDS.”

He reiterated that the three farm laws did not pass the Parliamentary scrutiny as they were bulldozed by muzzling the voice of the Opposition, particularly in the Upper House.

“There is only one demand of the farmers and the farm labourers — repeal the farm laws. But the government continues to side-step, malign, deceive and hoodwink the farmers by attempting to tire out, intimidate and divide them,” he said.