Armed, aggressive, drunk, these are some of the things that have been mentioned about protesting farmers in the statements given by policemen injured in Tuesday’s clashes that broke out after the Republic Day tractor rally went rouge.
“They were violent and had all kinds of weapons,” Station House Officer Baljeet Singh said in a video statement that has been used to file at least one of the 22 cases naming numerous farmers’ union leaders for the violence that left over 300 policemen injured.
Many cops sustained serious injuries, including blows to the head and fractures, after trying to “restrain” protesting farmers who veered off the three approved rally routes along Delhi’s outskirts and entered the iconic Red Fort, besides other areas.
We begged them for mercy, added Mr Singh, who suffered fractures in both hands when he was on duty at the Najafgarh road.
“They broke a bus, took over a crane. When we fired tear gas shells they turned violent. They had all kinds of weapons and some were even drunk,” he added.
The police had barricaded many roads across Delhi with concrete bollards and even buses, but farmers pushed past them using tractors leading to clashes in and around Muqarba Chowk, Ghazipur, ITO, Seemapuri, Nangloi T-Point, Singhu Border and Tikri Border. The police resorted to use of water cannons, tear gas shells and baton-charging to bring the situation under control.
“One hand of mine is fractured. I have other injuries too. Many protesters behaved like hooligans and caused largescale destruction,” constable Sandeep Kumar, who at the ramparts of Red Fort when protesters hoisted a religious flag from a pole, told NDTV.
He added that there was a lot of police deployment at the Red Fort, but protesters kept breaching the security barricades and pelted stones.
Another senior officer PC Yadav, who suffered a head injury while trying to rescue another seriously injured colleague at the Red Fort, said that when the police “tried to remove protesters from the rampart, they became aggressive”.
“They had swords, lathis, spears. Our intention was to use restraint because they are farmers,” he added.
#WATCH | We were deployed at Red Fort when many people entered there. We tried to remove them from the rampart of the fort but they became aggressive….We didn’t want to use force against farmers so we exercised as much restraint as possible: PC Yadav, SHO Wazirabad. #Delhipic.twitter.com/v6o7D57EAk
— ANI (@ANI) January 27, 2021
Late Tuesday, after a meeting with senior police and government officials, Home Minister Amit Shah (to whom Delhi Police reports) ordered extra paramilitary forces to be positioned in the city.
A special investigation team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch is likely to investigate the incident.
(With input from ANI)