New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Friday arrested 44 people in connection with the violence at Singhu border, ANI reported. According to a report in The Indian Express, all those arrested were farmers protesting at the site.
Tension arose on Friday after a group of around 200 people, claiming to be local residents, barged into the farmers’ protest site despite heavy security. The group indulged in stone pelting and damaged tents pitched by the farmers.
The police reportedly did not try to stop the group at first, but resorted to the use tear gas shells and batons after the situation escalated. When asked why the group was allowed to get so close to protest site, an unidentified senior police officer told The Indian Express that the men “wanted to hold talks and were allowed to move forward”. He added: “We took action when the two parties clashed with each other.”
Several people, including Delhi Police Station House Office (Alipur) Pradeep Paliwal, were injured in the clashes.
People who barged into the protest site demanded that farmers vacate the area. They alleged that the farmers had “insulted” the national flag during their tractor parade on Republic Day. The protesting farmers, on the other hand, claimed that the vandals were not local residents but hired goons.
Meanwhile, fact-checking website Alt News identified Bharatiya Janata Party supporters among the mob. One of them was Aman Dabas, who is married to BJP municipal councillor Anju Kumar.
The situation at farmers’ protest sites on Delhi’s borders has been tense after violence at the Republic Day tractor rally. On Thursday, farmers protesting at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border were given an ultimatum to vacate the site by midnight.
As the farmers prepared for eviction, Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait tearfully declared that he would rather die by suicide than end the agitation. His comments drew huge groups of protestors from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana back to the site.
Meanwhile the Opposition criticised the Centre for trying to intimidate the farmers. “Neither by deploying police at Ghazipur, nor by pelting stones at Singhu border will dishearten the farmers,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said. “The entire country is supporting them, you cannot intimidate them.”