Nearly six months after protestors ran amok on the streets of the national capital culminating in the Republic Day riots, the Congress-led house panel of the Punjab legislative assembly has asked the Punjab government to provide free legal aid and compensation to the accused rioters.
According to reports, the Punjab state government led by Amarinder Singh has set up a Vidhan Sabha committee to look into the issue of providing legal aid and compensation to the Republic Day riots accused. The committee has issued a series of recommendations to the Punjab government, asking them to provide free legal assistance to the rioters and also compensation for facing alleged torture at the hands of Delhi and Haryana Police.
The Delhi and Haryana police have registered cases against these alleged farmers after they unleashed mayhem on the streets of the national capital on Republic Day and desecrated the national flag by storming onto Mughal monument Red Fort.
The Congress party-led committee has also claimed that the protesting “farmers” were falsely implicated, tortured, and hence the government needs to provide free legal aid and compensation. The Vidhan Sabha committee led by Congress MLA Kuldip Singh Vaid met protestors and alleged farmers across the state in the last few weeks.
Speaking to the media, Congress MLA Vaid said that the committee has come to a conclusion that protestors were arrested when they were heading to the Tikri border to participate in a tractor rally. The committee consists of four other members — Congress MLAs Kulbir Singh Zira, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, AAP MLA Sarvjit Kaur Manuke, SAD MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra.
“Someone was supplying milk to the agitating farmers, and the other was supplying ration. They told us that the police asked them if they were headed to the Tikri border, and when they responded affirmatively, they were picked up. They were tortured badly with sticks. Their stories are very moving. They have gone through a lot,” claimed the Congress MLA.
The Congress MLA added that they would submit the report to the Amarinder Singh government in the next week and recommend that these farmers be given free legal aid and compensation. The government should decide on the compensation, he said.
The protestors have been booked in several cases and are now being tried. “They do not know which lawyer to go to. We will now recommend to the government that we should provide them legal aid,” Congress leader said.
The Punjab government had set up the Vidhan Sabha committee after a few MLAs had demanded the government to intervene and help the Punjabi farmers who were part of the protest.
According to a report by Jagran, the Congress party government in Punjab is keen on implementing the recommendations and provide free legal aid and compensation to the Republic Day riots accused.
Republic Day Riots
On January 26, groups of alleged farmers forcefully entered Delhi on the pretext of a Tractor Rally. They created a riot-like situation in which over 300 police personnel were injured, and properties worth crores were damaged. The rally was supposed to be a protest rally against the Agriculture laws named Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 passed in September 2020.
Visuals that emerged from the riots showed how the alleged farmers tried to mow down the police personnel with tractors, attacked them with swords, batons and other weapons and mercilessly attacked police personnel at Red Fort for security purposes. A group of rioters including Deep Sidhu, Gurjot Singh, Jugraj Singh and others reached the Red Fort and hoisted two flags with the Sikh Holy symbol.
Interestingly, the hoisting of the flag was in sync with the provocations of terrorist organisation Sikhs For Justice, whose founder had announced a cash prize for hoisting the flag on Red Fort. A total of 43 cases has been registered in connection to the riots.