New Delhi, 26 January 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Thousands of Indian farmers broke through barricades to enter New Delhi on Tuesday for a tractor rally against new agricultural laws.
The rally came on the same day India marked its Republic Day with a parade in the city in the morning, which went ahead without disruption.
Crowds of farmers gathered at border points on Tuesday morning, well before the tractor rally was due to take place at noon as permitted by police.
More than 5,000 gathered at the Singhu border point alone, broadcaster NDTV report said.
There were scenes of chaos at the Singhu border, where huge groups of farmers on foot marched through with flags. Many others drove in on tractors after the barricades were cleared.
Police resorted to baton-charging and firing tear gas shells to disperse crowds at some locations in the city, footage on news channels showed. Several police officers were injured, NDTV reported.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi’s border points since late November, demanding the repeal of three farm laws that they say will impact their income, benefit big corporations and leave them at the mercy of the free market.
Delhi Police cleared three routes for the tractor rally, all more than 60 kilometers long. Police bolstered security arrangements, claiming they had discovered separatist activists who had infiltrated the farmers’ ranks.
Farmer groups and the government have so far held eleven rounds of talks but have had no breakthrough. The farmers have turned down the government’s offer to put the laws on hold for 18 months while a special panel conducts negotiations.