Condemning the incident, which brought shame on the entire movement, Pal also said “not only it very much weakened the protest, even continuing it will be very difficult.
As violence marred the so-called ‘Kisan Gantantra Parade’, realising its implications, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (United Farmers’ Front), a congregation of several organisations spearheading the movement against the three contentious farm laws, tried to distance itself from the episode and put the blame on organisations saying those are not part of the umbrella body, though still part of the ongoing protest.
“We thank farmers for the unprecedented participation in today’s ‘Farmers’ Republic Day Parade’. We also condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place today and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts,” Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) said in a statement.
Late in the evening, SKM called off the tractor parade and appealed the participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites.
It also attributed the violent incidents to the delay in finding a resolution as their protest has exceeded 60 days at Delhi borders.
“Despite all our efforts, some organisations and individuals have violated the route and indulged in condemnable acts. Anti-social elements had infiltrated the otherwise peaceful movement. We have always held that peace is our biggest strength, and that any violation would hurt the movement,” the umbrella body said.
Farmers in tractors and cars, mostly from Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, deviated from the permitted route, taking out the rally even before commencement of the Republic Day parade with the veiled objective to disrupt the national function on Rajpath, and finally put a religious flag atop the pole at Red Fort from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation on every Independence Day.
“The members of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee had misguided the farmers and were behind this (violence). The SKM is ready to take the onus if any of our members are involved in the violence. It was clear when these people had different opinion and did not accept the route plan prepared in agreement with police,” said Darshan Pal, founding member of SKM. Without naming the other organisation, Pal said “the government is aware of it.”
Condemning the incident, which brought shame on the entire movement, Pal also said “not only it very much weakened the protest, even continuing it will be very difficult.” The incident happened at a time when farmers were hopeful of a resolution and it should not have taken place, he added. Yogendra Yadav and Shiv Kumar Sharma, both working group members of SKM, also strongly condemned the violence as it happened on the Republic Day.
But Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait), blamed Delhi Police for blocking the approved the rally route from the Ghazipur border, even as farmers reached Akshardham before the completion of the Republic Day parade. “Police did not cooperate with us. It is a matter of enquiry why the agreed march route was blocked, who had ordered the four-layer barricading,” Tikait said and added that farmers were misguided to move on a different route so that they reach Delhi. However, he exuded confidence that the incident will not have any impact on the protest, which will continue.