Farmers protesting against new agriculture laws in India broke through police barricades around the capital and entered the grounds of Delhi’s historic Red Fort on Tuesday, in chaotic and violent scenes that overshadowed the country’s Republic Day celebrations.
Police hit protesters with batons and fired teargas to try to disperse the crowds after hundreds of thousands of farmers, many on tractors or horses, marched on the capital. One protester was confirmed to have died in the clashes and dozens of police and protesters were injured. Mobile internet services were suspended in parts of Delhi and some metro stations closed. As the clashes continued into the afternoon, home minister Amit Shah met Delhi police to discuss how to get the protests under control.
Standing on the ramparts of the Red Fort was Diljender Singh, a farmer from Punjab, who held aloft the Nishan Sahib, the flag of Sikhism.
“We have been protesting for the last six months but government didn’t bother to listen to us,” Singh said. “Our ancestors have charged this fort several times in history. This was a message to government that we can do it again and more than this if our demands are not met.”