Several farmers protesting India’s latest agricultural reforms reportedly drove a fleet of tractors into New Delhi, broke Police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort on Tuesday as the country celebrated its Republic Day.
The storming has led to internet service suspensions in several parts of Delhi, India’s capital and the closure of many metro stations in the city, Times Of India reported.
Many farmers were camping out in Delhi’s outskirts with their tractors adorned with colorful flags for more than two months, protesting the agricultural reforms ahead of the storming, according to CNN.
Others, including young farmers from neighboring states, had congregated on the city’s border over recent days in time for a planned march on India’s Republic Day, which marks the day India formally adopted its Constitution the same day in 1950.
The Delhi Police had permitted farmers to protest the three farm laws and hold their tractor parade on restricted routes that day after the official Republic Day parade in the city ended, The Hindu reported. However, chaos ensued after farmers wanted to head towards central Delhi, which was off-limits to them.
Riot police deployed tear gas and water cannons to resist multiple rows of tractors pushing against concrete and steel barricades set up to stop the farmers from reaching the center of the capital. Thousands, however, managed to breach some important landmarks, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“We want to show [Indian Prime Minister] Modi our strength,” Satpal Singh, a farmer who drove into the capital on a tractor, told the AP. “We will not surrender.”
“The anger that you see is compounded anger,” Sharma, another protestor, told the outlet. “Inequality is growing in India and farmers are becoming poorer. Policy planners have failed to realize this and have sucked the income from the bottom to the top. The farmers are only demanding what is their right.”
A Delhi Police personnel was looked after by other Police personnel as he fell unconscious while on duty at Dilshad Garden, during the farmers’ protest. He is now being taken to a hospital after regaining consciousness. pic.twitter.com/9Rmp9BtAQR— ANI (@ANI) January 26, 2021
At least one unidentified farmer, whose corpse protestors refuse to hand over to authorities, has died of undetermined causes during the protest, Al Jazeera reported. Five cops and three protestors were injured, according to Reuters.
The protests follow nine rounds of failed government talks with farmers’ unions over disagreements with new farm laws, which farmers fear will hand over their livelihoods to corporations, Reuters reported. The farmers’ leaders had earlier rejected the government’s offer of an 18-month delay of the new laws, demanding a repeal instead.