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India celebrates R-Day amidst massive protests by farmers

Farmers' organisations had announced a "Tractor March" on Tuesday to mark Republic Day as well as protest against the three farm laws

Tuesday January 26, 2021 12:24 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

Republic Day

New Delhi: India on Tuesday celebrated its 72nd Republic Day amidst massive protests by farmers who defying the Delhi Police guidelines broke the barricades at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders and other rentry points to enter Delhi hours ahead of the planned 'Kisan Gantantra Parade'.

Farmers' organisations had announced a "Tractor March" on Tuesday to mark Republic Day as well as protest against the three farm laws. The Delhi Police however found itself off the guard when they saw hundreds of thousands of 'unstoppable" farmers breaking the barricades and entering Delhi walking.

In violation of an agreement with authorities on the timing of the 'Tractor Rally' to be taken out after the Republic Day parade, a section of farmers at Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders broke through barricades and entered Delhi ahead of the agreed time.

"Lathi charge, tear gas"

Thousands of farmers marched into the national capital on foot and while riding tractors, even as paramilitary forces and Delhi Police personnel kept a wary eye on the evolving situation.

A senior police officer said that farmers began their rally before the scheduled time between 12 pm and 5 pm once the "official" Republic Day celebrations was over.

Thousands of farmers gathered on eight points on the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders on Tuesday, ahead of the tractor march to protest the three new central agricultural laws.

At some places, police fired tear gas shells and also ordered lathi charge. The farmers were however simply unstoppable.

The Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally subject to certain conditions to be followed by farmers. The protesters were told they can't disrupt the celebrations at the Rajpath even as the protesters insisted their rally would be "peaceful".

A farmer leader told IANS:

"A few farmers removed the barricades at the Singhu and Tikri borders and started their march into Delhi. However, the 'official' tractor parade is yet to start."

Kisan Congress Vice Chairman Surender Solanki, who is leading a protest by farmers at the Tikri border, told IANS:

"Thousands of farmers have been assembling at the Tikri border since 3 am today for the tractor parade."

"Around 6 am, we began our tractor parade with hundreds of tractors. And we also removed the barricades put at the Jharoda border."

Chaos at Ghazipur border

Similarly, at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh Ghazipur border, hundreds of farmers, comprising mostly the youths removed the barricades forcibly, even as senior members in the groups were seen persuading them not to take matters into their hands and protest in peaceful manner.

The youths also defied the conditions put by the farmers' unions as they played loud music and rode their tractors at high speed on the highway that connects Delhi with Uttar Pradesh.

On Monday, the farmers unions said that their tractor parade will start only after the official Republic Day parade on Rajpath concludes. They also claimed that around 2,00,000 tractors were expected to participate in the parade in a show of strength and support.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at the several borders of the national capital since November 26 last year demanding repealing of three contentious farm laws passed in September to ensure minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.

President Kovind unfurls Tricolour at Rajpath

As India celebrated its 72nd Republic Day on Tuesday, President Ram Nath Kovind unfurled the national flag and received the customary 21-gun salute at Rajpath.

The 21-gun salute was presented by the Ceremonial Battery of 223 Field Regiment that was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jitender Singh Mehta.

Kovind, escorted by 46 President's Bodyguards raised in 1773 -- on magnificent Bay and Dark Bay coloured mounts, was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After unfurling the national flag, the first formation comprising of four Mi-17 V5 helicopters of the 155 Helicopter Unit flew and showered flowers at the Rajpath and guests. The helicopters flew in a Wineglass formation.

India's military might in full display

Thereafter, India's military might, cultural diversity, social and economic progress was on display at the majestic Rajpath.

President, Vice President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries attended the parade at Rajpath. The Republic Day parade showcases India's defence capabilities, the different culture and traditions.

This year there was no Chief Guest due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was invited as the Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations but due to pandemic he could not come.

In his video message, Johnson said that he will visit in the coming months and wished India on the occasion citing it as the biggest sovereign democracy in the world. "I was hugely looking forward to joining you for this important occasion at the kind invitation of my friend Prime Minister Modi, alas our common struggle against Covid has kept me in London," said Johnson.

India is celebrating its 72nd Republic Day on Tuesday, honouring the historic date when the country completed its transition towards becoming an independent republic after its constitution came into effect.


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