Chaos reigned at Red Fort on the 72nd Republic Day as the tractor rally by farmers went off the designated course and flocked together at the Mughal-era iconic building. 

What really happened at the tractor parade?

Chaos and violence ensued in the Indian capital as the tractor rally by the farmers who have been protesting against the Farm laws went off the designated course and made their way into the heart of the national capital. 

The farmers entered the main forecourt of the Red Fort, climbed over it and hoisted a religious flag on a mast next to where the Indian Flag is hoisted. The police managed to remove them from inside the Red Fort.  

In the morning…

Earlier, before the Indian contingents took to the Rajpath, a defiant Punjab farmer union, the Kisan mazdoor Sangharsh Committee took the first step that would later be considered as the trigger to the entire incident. The farmers from this committee broke down barricades at the Singhu border point with their tractors and started driving to Delhi.  

Later, in the morning, several tractors started to deviate from the agreed routes and started making their way towards Delhi’s Outer Ring Road. These tractors and the farmers were met with tear gas, water cannons, and lathi charges from the Delhi Police.  

The main road below the Nangloi Flyover turned into a virtual brawl space for the entire afternoon where the Delhi Police tried to force the agitated farmers to move away through lathi charge and tear gas shelling. The Police themselves responded to fire with fire as they had to deal with farmers who were armed with lathis themselves.  

Later in the noon…

Later in the afternoon the agitated farmers had flooded into the iconic Red Forted and hoisted a religious flag Nishan Sahib (a flag that flies over Gurudwaras) and the flag of one of the farm unions on an empty flag post. The farmers discredited their movement by not taking into consideration the national sensibilities and hoisted a religious flag on a monument that holds national importance while the tricolor flew beside the flag.  

The protest took an even uglier turn when a protester died after his tractor overturned at the ITO during the tractor parade.  

The deceased farmer’s dead body was draped in the tricolor by the fellow farmers. The farmers also did not allow the Delhi Police to take the dead farmer’s body to post mortem and ended up lashing out at the media persons covering the incident. The Delhi Police reported that over 80 of their personnel have been injured in the face-off against the farmers.  

By the evening…

By 7.30 in the evening Samyukta Kisaan Morcha called off the parade and asked the participants of the tractor parade to return to the border protest sites. The SKM issued a statement that went like this:   

“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.” 

By later evening, additional parliamentary forces were deployed in Delhi by the Home Ministry. Additionally, mobile internet services were also suspended in various regions across the Delhi capital.  

Delhi Police said 83 police personnel and one civilian had been injured during the protest. By evening, the Home Ministry deployed additional paramilitary forces in Delhi, and suspended mobile internet services in several parts of the city. 

According to the Delhi police’s statement, “Protesting farmers breached the agreement and began their tractor march before the scheduled time. They chose the path of violence and vandalism, and seeing that the police had to take necessary steps to maintain law and order. This agitation led to damage of public property and many police personnel were also injured.” 

At the time of writing, 22 FIRs have been lodged by the Delhi Police against people who were part of Tuesday’s violence in New Delhi.