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Year 2021: On Republic Day, when Red Fort almost came under siege

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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Dec 11: A tractor march meant to highlight farmers' demands dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital on Republic Day this year.

Hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and delivered a national insult -- hoisting a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, a privilege reserved for India's tricolour.

Year 2021: On Republic Day, when Red Fort almost came under siege

Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in multiple places, leading to chaos in well known landmarks of Delhi and suburbs, amid waves of violence that ebbed and flowed through the day, leaving the farmers' two-month peaceful movement in tatters.

In a Republic Day like no other, farmers atop tractors, on motorcycles and some on horses, broke barricades to enter the city at least two hours before they were supposed to start the tractor march at noon sanctioned by authorities. Steel and concrete barriers were broken and trailer trucks overturned as pitched battles broke out in several parts of the city, PTI said.

Eclipsing the traditional show of military might at Rajpath, the farmers' tractor parade that was supposed to be peaceful led to virtual anarchy on the streets and unprecedented scenes the most perhaps being the sight of protesters clambering up the flagpole at the Red Fort, the centrepiece of India's Independence Day celebrations, to hoist the Nishaan Sahib', the Sikh religious flag.

Farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the protest at the national capital's border points to demand a repeal of the farm laws, distanced themselves from the protests that had taken such an unseemly turn and threatened to shift public sympathy from their movement.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, alleged that some "antisocial elements" infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.

As the sun set, sporadic incidents of violence continued and restless crowds roamed the streets in many places. Some groups of farmers began the journey to their respective sit-in sites at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, but thousands stayed on.

At the Red Fort, the Mughal era monument from the ramparts of which the prime minister addresses the nation on Independence Day, thousands of farmer stormed the ramparts and returned towards the evening, according to some reports. The protesters, many of them young, vocal and aggressive, were removed from the premises.

If police used teargas shells to disperse the restive crowds in some places, hundreds of farmers in ITO were seen chasing them with sticks and ramming their tractors into parked buses. A protester died after his tractor overturned.

ITO resembled a war zone with a car being vandalised by angry protesters and shells, bricks and stones littering the wide streets, testimony to the fact that the farmer movement that had been peaceful for two months was no longer so.

As the day progressed and thousands of farmers roamed restlessly, thousands more congregated at the Red Fort on foot, tractor and some even on horses -- about four kilometres from ITO.

Pushed back by the police from ITO, some protesting farmers drove their tractors to Red Fort complex. Uniformed security personnel could be seen looking on as people gathered in larger numbers.

The day began on a celebratory note with farmers chanting 'rang de basanti' and 'jai jawan jai kisan' crossing the national border on tractors, motorbikes, horses and even cranes for their proposed parade.

Locals stood on both sides of the roads at various locations showering flower petals on the farmers amid drum beats.

Standing atop vehicles decked up with flags, protesters could be seen dancing to the tune of patriotic songs such as Aisa desh hai mera and Sare jahan se achcha .

But the mood changed soon after.

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