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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Farmers break barricades, capture Red Fort: India

Demonstrators broke through police barricades after Republic Day parade

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At least one protester died and more than 80 policemen got injured as farmers protesting against agricultural reforms broke through police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort in the Indian capital on Tuesday.

Thousands of farmers have been demonstrating on the outskirts of Delhi since November against laws meant to liberalize the agriculture sector. Farmers claim the new rules will threaten their livelihoods.

Police had allowed them to march on foot and in tractors, and gave specific routes for their rally.

But many diverted from the set route, breached security and managed to enter the iconic 16th century fortress, and hoisted the holy flag of the Sikh faith on the fort’s dome, shortly after the 72nd Republic Day parade. It marks the anniversary of India officially adopting its Constitution on Jan. 26, 1950.

Read more: Indian women farmers on the front lines of protests

Footages showed that police baton-charged and fired tear gas to hold them back.

Police said one farmer died when his speeding tractor overturned, adding that the situation normalized in the evening, and the roads reopened for traffic flow.

A senior Delhi police officer told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that “farmers have started to leave the complex, and the situation is being closely monitored.”

Protesters said those involved in the violence were not part of the farmers union. “What happened today is unfortunate. We dissociate ourselves from those who broke the barricades,” Darshan Pal, a union leader, told Anadolu Agency.

He said some hoisted religious flags at the Red Fort, which “shouldn’t have happened” as there was no call to break through the historic fort.

Pal said the clashes will, nonetheless, have an impact in talks with the government.

Republic Day parade

Earlier in the day, an official event to display the country’s cultural diversity and military might was held.

There was no chief guest for the first time in decades due to the coronavirus pandemic. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind hoisted the national flag with a 21-gun salute. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also attended.

Read more: India’s Republic Day to be overshadowed by revolutionary farmer’s parade

A total of 32 tableaux, including 17 from different states and unions were on display. A 122-member contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces led the contingent march, while the newly inducted Rafale jets also soared through the skies at a speed of 900 km per hour.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk