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26 January 2022 Republic Day: A year since ‘tractor rally’ protesters went on a rampage in Delhi and sieged the iconic Red Fort

The symbolism of organising a tractor rally, which later turned violent, on the auspicious occasion of India’s Republic Day, in defiance of the democratically elected government, and to oppose the laws legislated by it could not have been overstated.

26th January hold a special significance in the psyche of every Indian. For, this is the day when the nation celebrates its Republic Day. It was thid day back in 1950 when the country’s constitution came into force, realising the long-held goal of PurnaSwaraj or complete independence from the British rule.

India won its freedom from the British on 15 August 1947, but for the first three years of its existence as a fledgling independent nation, it remained governed largely by the colonial Government of India Act of 1935, a British relic that was used by the English to maintain their rule over the country. It took over two years for the framers of the Constitution to flesh out a body of laws that India wanted to be governed by and identified with.

The constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 26 November 1949 and became effective on 26 January 1950. This year, India is celebrating its 73rd Republic Day on 26 January 2022, marking the adoption of the constitution of India and the transition of the country to a republic. It is a day to commemorate India’s freedom, independence and its adoption of democratic norms. When so many countries across the world were falling to the lure of despotism, India made a bold move to give a punt to democracy, to self-governance and universal suffrage.

For the last 73 years, it is celebrated as a pious occasion honouring the Constitution of the country that vests powers in the hands of Indian citizens to chose their own destiny. However, there’s an aberration to this custom, which was sullied on 26 January 2021, the 72nd Republic Day, when thousands of rabble rousers under the guise of ‘farmers’ stormed into the national capital and went on a rampage, bringing shame, ignominy and disrepute not just to the nation but to its Constitution as well.

Violence sweeps Delhi as farmer protesters resort to vandalism, arson, rioting under the pretext of carrying out ‘Tractor Rally’

On this day, it is, therefore, important to reflect on the turn of events that took place in the national capital on last year’s Republic Day. The unfortunate incidents highlights not just the Left and their supporters’ hollow commitment to democracy and civilised means of protests, but it also underscores their penchant for mob supremacy, especially when the leader at the helm of the affairs is not to their liking.

The scenes observed on Republic Day 2021 were unprecedented. Farmers, who were protesting against the three farm laws passed in September the year before, chose Republic Day for mobilising a tractor rally in the national capital, presumably as a show of strength to the Centre. They had sought to sanctify the then ongoining protests and draw national, and even international attention towards the demonstrations continuing against the agriculture laws. The symbolism of organising a tractor rally on the auspicious occasion of India’s Republic Day, in defiance of the democratically elected government, and to oppose the laws legislated by it could not have been overstated.

And as expected, what was meant and assured to be a peaceful tractor rally, quickly degenerated into an insurrection, characterised by widespread chaos, violence and disorder. The fact that the rampage took place just weeks after the storming of Capitol Hill by insurrectionists in the United States cannot be overlooked. A precedent was there for others to follow and it was imitated with a ferocity equalling the attack on the Capitol Hill, if not more.

Thousands of protesters streamed into Delhi under the pretext of carrying out peaceful tractor rally on the day of 72nd Republic Day. However, their intentions seemed anything but peaceful. They veered away from the pre-decided route, breaking barricades on their way and torching vehicles in their wake. As police forces tried to control the mob from going astray, the demonstrators resorted to vandalism, arson and rioting on the streets of Delhi. A group of protesters vandalised DTC buses during their march through ITC area.

Similar scenes were observed in other parts of Delhi. At Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, protesters laid seige on a police water cannon vehicle. On the Ghazipur border protest site, protesters resorted to stone pelting on police personnel, in a bid to break the barricade and storm into the national capital. Some of the demonstrators even pulled out swords to fight the law enforcement officials.

The siege of iconic monument Red Fort

However, nothing came close to the vandalism, chaos and anarchy witnessed during the siege of the Red Fort that day. Scores of rampaging demonstrators breached the police barricades around the capital and stormed the grounds of Delhi’s historic Red Fort, a symbol of India’s robust democracy. The demonstrators scaled the ramparts of the historic monument and waved a Sikh flag alongside the Indian flag. There were also reports of some protesters defiling the hallowed monument by urinating on its walls.

Meanwhile, 83 policemen were injured during the violence that ensued. In some videos, the protestors were seen trying to run their tractors over police personnel. In another video, the mob was seen beating and pushing police personnel off a high rise wall in the Red Fort. And even more horrifying was the fact that hundreds of children/artists who had participated in the Republic Day celebrations were stranded at the Red Fort when the monument was held at siege. They were crying and terrified before they were rescued by the Delhi Police.

Following the incident, some farmers bodies that took part in Tractor Rally tried to distance themselves from violence and Red Fort seige, calling it a handiwork of a few motivated individuals and not of their organisation. However, their explanation appeared insincere and aimed at avoiding punitive action against them.

It was also revealed that proscribed Khalistani terror organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) was behind the Red Fort siege and rioting in Delhi. They had even announced a reward of  $250,000 for waving Khalistani flags at the Red Fort. The confession was made in a seven-minute video released by the outlawed organisation in which they had backed the Red Fort siege and called for the siege of the Indian Parliament on February 1 when the Budget Session commences.

Congress, left-liberals rejoice and defend the violence that swept Delhi on 71st Republic Day

However, for some political parties and luminaries of the left intelligentsia, it was an occasion to rejoice and celebrate. While protesting mobs were running riot in Delhi, the Congress party decided to celebrate the ‘power of the Republic’. The official handle of the Congress party shared a photograph of the tractor parade on social media with a caption that said, “Never underestimate the power of a Republic”. It is pertinent to mention that the tweet was made long after violence had been unleashed in Delhi.

Similarly, a raft of left-liberals could not hide their glee as Delhi was burning in the fire of farmers’ protests. As protesters held the Red Fort at the siege and unfurled a religious flag at the site, the usual suspects went on an overdrive to justify the anarchy that was unravelling on the 71st Republic Day of the world’s largest democracy during the tractor rally.

Be it Akash Banerjee or Rohini Singh, Newslaundry journalist Manisha Pande or an undistinguished liberal such as Nikhil Taneja, everyone tried to make light of the Red Fort insurrection, making a beeline to justify the rampage witnessed in the national capital. Some of them even compared the Sikh flag being hoisted at the Red Fort with the Ram Mandir Tableau by the Uttar Pradesh government at the Republic Day parade.

The entire saga of the Red Fort siege laid bare the innate tendencies of the liberal intelligentsia and political parties for whom condemnation to mob violence and vandalism is not absolute but convenient and flexible, based on the identities of the ‘victims’ and the ‘oppressors’. Since the protesters here were protesting against their nemesis—the Modi government—the liberals and opposition parties felt no qualms with the national capital being in ruins and the historic Red Fort being sieged and defiled.

The events that transpired on the 72nd Republic Day were reminiscent of some of the darkest moments of the Indian Republic. A mob demanding the rollback of three farm laws took the national capital hostage and went on a rampage around the city. They were emboldened by support from opposition parties, foreign-based radical elements and the left-liberal ideologues.

The day, nevertheless, was a poignant reminder of what India stands to lose should these anarchists have their way at the Centre. To ensure that India continues to remain a Republic like her forefathers envisioned, it is the duty of every patriotic Indian to remember what led to the imbroglio witnessed on 26 January 2021 and those responsible for bringing it to bear.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Jinit Jain
Jinit Jain
Writer. Learner. Cricket Enthusiast.

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