Disassociating itself from the vandalism at the Red Fort on January 26, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Wednesday (January 27) said that the violence was a conspiracy of the central government to defame the farmers’ protest, and perpetrated with the help of people like Punjabi actor and activist Deep Sidhu.
The farmer leaders put up a show of strength after a five-hour long meeting on the Singhu Border late on Wednesday and while expressing regret over the Red Fort incident on Republic Day, said the protest against the farm bills will continue.
The union said that it has cancelled the planned march to Parliament on February 1, adding that farmers across the country would observe fast on the death anniversary of the Mahatma Gandhi, on January 30.
Talking to reporters, Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmer leader said, “The incident at the Red Fort where some people participating in the tractor parade unfurled the flag of a particular religion hurt the sentiments of the people of the nation. Although we had no role in it, we express our regret over the incident as we had given the call for the tractor parade, in which lakhs participated.”
The SKM has also accused members of the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee of sabotaging their protest.
“We will expose the conspiracy by the government in the coming days. We obeyed the route plan given to us by the police, but encountered barricades. Members of the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee stood ahead of these barricades to ‘sabotage’ our protest. Sangharsh Committee members and Deep Sidhu are responsible for what happened at the Red Fort,” Rajewal told the media.
Rajewal also gave a call to boycott activists such as Deep Sidhu, Sarwan Singh Pandher and leaders of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee in Punjab after calling them ‘biggest traitors of Punjab.’
Farmer leader Yogendra Yadav said the protest would continue and more farmers would join in soon.
“FIRs have been registered against innocent farmers too. It was a conspiracy to weaken the brotherhood between the farmers of Haryana and Punjab,” Yadav said.
Terming the violence at Red Fort as a planned conspiracy by the government, Rajewal questioned the easy infiltration of the Red Fort, a high-security are by farmers and what was the police doing to prevent the breach.
“At the meeting, we identified the person who had hoisted a flag on the Red Fort and he can be linked to a particular political party,”
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) told The Federal.
Gurnam Singh Chadauni from BKU Haryana said the farmer unions have boycotted Deep Sidhu, who is the main instigator behind the violence. “He should be punished. This is not a matter of religion or a state but this has been done to derail the protest. Sikh religion is not bad, but traitors can be there in every religion. So I request everyone not to see all of us as traitors.”
“This protest has been started to save millions of Indians from starvation. The people from RSS are blaming us. But the irony is that they are the same people who did not hoist the tricolour at their office for years and now they are saying that the tricolour is their pride. The sikh community and every farmer here have people in the Indian armed forces. We have given our lives to save the respect of tricolour and we are ready to do it now as well,” Chadauni added.
Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday denounced the unprecedented violence at the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day, saying, “it can’t be condemned enough”. In its first official reaction since the widespread clashes, the government also promised action against those responsible.
“Action should be against all of those who instigated others. India won’t tolerate the manner in which the Tricolour was insulted at the Red Fort,” said Union minister Prakash Javadekar in a press conference, apparently citing the incident where protesters who managed to get inside the Red Fort hoisted a Sikh religious flag on an empty mast.