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New Delhi: The Delhi Police has cited a rise in tractor sales to validate its allegation that the January 26 violence during the farmers’ protest was an “orchestrated conspiracy,” Indian Express has reported.
In its chargesheet – submitted in May and examined by Express recently – police has said that there was a significant increase in the sale of tractors between November 2020 and January 2021.
Police has claimed that this rise of allegedly 94.30% was the “biggest” in Punjab. In December 2019, 790 tractors were sold while in the same month, in 2020, 1,535 vehicles were sold, police has claimed.
January 2021 saw an 85.13% increase from January 2021, according to police.
Haryana, recording a 31.81% rise from November 2019 to 2020, a 50.32% rise from December 2019 to 2020, and 48% from January 2020 to 2021, cuts a slightly less impressive figure.
Farmers’ unions, who had and have been peacefully demonstrating against the three Central farm laws at Delhi’s borders had, in fact, announced plans of leading a peaceful tractor rally into New Delhi on Republic Day days in advance.
Considering that plans for the rally had been aired and with regular updates from the protesters on farmers arriving to the borders to participate in the rally, the police’s claim of a “deep-rooted, well-orchestrated conspiracy” appears tenuous. For instance, The Wire had reported, in the week before the rally, farmers’ plans of displaying tableaux from various during the parade.
However, in the chargesheet, police has said there is evidence of video clips showing farmer leaders instigating their supporters to “modify their tractors and get heavy metal accessory installed so that the police barricades can be breached”, according to Express.
On January 26 itself, ground reports by The Wire and other news outlets recorded protesters alleging that police barricades had been put up in key locations to prevent farmers from progressing with their tractors, leading to situations where tussles ensued. A section of protesters, allegedly egged on by actor Deep Sidhu, meanwhile, went to the Red Fort and have been accused of vandalism.
In its chargesheet, police have cited a disclosure statement of one of the accused, Iqbal Singh, who reportedly said that if he succeeded in getting the Sikh flag of Nishan Sahib hoisted, then he would get a cash reward announced by the Sikhs for Justice – an organisation banned by the Union government, which took centrestage in mainstream media’s coverage in the days since the protest turned violent.
A farmer also died in what his family has claimed was police firing and what police have said was an overturned tractor. The Uttar Pradesh police filed an FIR against The Wire, its founding editor and a reporter over a report on the former claim.
As many as 16 persons have been chargesheeted in the case under IPC sections. Counsel of some of them told Express that the police’s claim had no basis in truth and nor did police have evidence to prove conspiracy.