The Republic Day violence and the subsequent desecration of Indian tricolour and the hoisting of other religious flags at the Red Fort created shock waves across the country. The riots that were unleashed in the capital on a historic day was suspected to have pro-Khalistani outfits hand, who along with far-left ‘activists’ and ‘farmer’ leaders instigated protestors to carry out large scale violence on the streets of Delhi.
Ever since the so-called farmer protests began to oppose the three farm laws passed by the Modi government, there were allegations of Khalistani interference. OpIndia had also reported in detail regarding how Khalistani elements were trying to hijack the protests to incite the ‘farmers’ to carry out insurrection against the state.
As suspected the farmer protests culminated in the massive violence during the tractor rally in the national capital on Republic Day. A few days after the riots, explosive details are emerging that links to the involvement of Khalistani elements in instigating the violence.
According to a report published by Sunday Guardian, members of a group going by the name of “Khalistan Zindabad” had discussed ‘picking up arms’ and ‘carry as many arms as possible’ in the initial days of January on the popular messaging application Telegram. These members also discussed their present and future moves to oppose the farm laws.
Private Telegram groups asked members to pick up arms, says report
As per the report, the suspected Telegram group had 42 members, and the group’s admin is identified by the name of ‘EmbassyofKhalistan’. The admin has the picture of Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who is declared a terrorist by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in July last year. Following the Republic Day riots, the number of members in the group decreased.
However, it is not yet clear whether any of these 42 members were part of the protestors, squatting at various points outside Delhi. These protestors disguised as ‘farmers’ created a riot-like situation in the national capital region on 26 January, that ended with desecration of the Red Fort and the unfurling of an alleged Khalistani flag from its ramparts.
On 11 January, one of the members of this ‘private group’ on Telegram had asked the members to ‘carry as many arms as possible’. It is not clear from the conversation as to where these armed members were asked to go and when.
Most importantly, the Sunday Guardian report disclosed that one of the prominent members of this group is also behind a music video, released on 31 October 2020 glorifying the life of Khalistani secessionist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The video glorifies Khalistani movement and incidents like assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi apart from Bhindranwale. It was uploaded from Southall district of London, United Kingdom, on YouTube as well as Instagram.
During a conversation between members of this group on 14 January, at around 9 pm on the ‘ills of farm bills’, one of the group members is inciting the other members to ‘pick up arms’.
Protesters resort to violence, vandalism and destruction amidst Tractor Rally
Thousands of farmers breached barricades and proceeded towards Delhi amid huge police presence as they kicked off their tractor rally on Republic Day. Chaos was unleashed on the streets leading to the national capital as farmers flouted the designated route and marched towards the Parliament and Red Fort.
The participants of the tractor rally also resorted to vandalism as they ran amok on the highways, attacking the trucks and breaking the barricades that were put up by the Delhi police to control their route. As disorder swept over the city’s borders, protesters were baton-charged and tear-gassed by the policemen on duty.
The upheaval was primarily caused after the protesters who were allowed to hold the “Kisaan Parade” between 12 to 5 PM, started the march much before the allotted time and veered away from the agreed-upon routes. The security personnel had tried in vain to convince the farmers to stick to the plan of holding the tractor parade after the conclusion of the Republic Day parade at Rajpath. But, their requests fell on deaf ears as the protesters ran riot, breaking barricades and vandalising vehicles on their way.