By Asia Samachar Team | INDIA |
Lies and misinformation made their rounds on the ground to rattle the massive farmers’ Tractor Rally in Delhi on Tuesday (26 Jan), coinciding with India’s Republic Day.
They were believed to have been engineered with the intention of derailing an otherwise peaceful protest.
This was experienced firsthand by a medical doctor who has been volunteering at the Delhi protest sites for the last two months.
And he himself came under police lathi charge while attending to injured policemen and farmers on that fateful day. A lathi is a long, heavy iron-bound bamboo stick used as a weapon, especially by police.
US-based cardiologist Dr Swaiman Singh detailed the mayhem – including rowdy behaviours by a few people who looked like policemen that led to tear gas being fired – in social media updates two days after the incident.
“What happened is clear. There were people set up to aggravate both the police and protestors,” he said in a social media entry uploaded yesterday (Jan 28) while he was near a mandir at Pind California, near Delhi’s Tikri border. See his Instagram entry here.
“Throughout the day, so much fake news was being spread, the internet connection was broken, everyone was confused. The farmers are not from Delhi. They were confused, which is the barricade and which is the road. They were literally set-up to fail.”
Dr Swaiman, who heads the 5 Rivers Heart Association, alleged that there seemed to be attempts to provoke protestors to break barricades during the tractor parade, putting them in collision course with the police.
Farmers in their hundreds of thousands have been camping at roadsides at a number of Delhi entry points to press their demand to repeal three farm laws hurriedly passed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led federal government.
Despite their numbers, the protestors, led by a clutch of farm (kisan) unions, have maintained peace and discipline on grounds like Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri and Mukarba Chowk in Delhi. They had also maintained a calm composure in their discussions with the government. Their approach had won many hearts in India and globally.
In their engagements, the farmer leaders had always underlined the importance of keeping the protest peaceful. They were focused on forcing the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) federal government to repeal the laws which they claim will further ruin the farmers’ position, already under stress as seen with numerous suicides in their ranks.
By and large, the tractor parades went on peacefully in most places despite barricades springing on some of routes that had been agreed between the farmers’ representatives and the police.
Then there was an incident where a group of protestors had marched towards Lal Qila or Red Fort, a historic fort in the city of Delhi. The move, condemned by the farmers’ leadership, hogged media headlines and was abuzz on the social media.
EYE WITNESS ACCOUNT
Recalling what happened on Tuesday, Dr Swaiman said his team medical, consisting 32 ambulances and some 220 volunteers, had stationed themselves near Delhi’s Nangloi metro station.
“As soon as we arrived there, some people came to us and told us that the Nihangs had injured two policemen. I thought to myself how could this happen. I sent two doctors to check it out, and they found nothing.
“Minutes later, a few more people came, telling us: ‘Go to the other side [of the barricade]. Police have injured your people.’”
Fearing something untoward had taken place, Dr Swaiman dispatched some ambulances, while he went ahead on foot. The police had allowed them to cross the barricade.
“When we arrived the other side, we found nothing. We asked the police if anyone’s injured, they just laughed at us,” he said.
It was then he suspected that something sinister might be afoot to provoke farmers so that they will break the barricades to ‘help’ their supposedly injured farmers on the other side.
Suddenly, he said the police began manhandling protestors, and tear gas were shot ‘directly into the faces’ of the protestors. One of them hit a tractor driver in his face causing him to lose control of his machine. It ran into a barricades and the incident was believed to have injured some policemen.
In the ensuing melee, he said many policemen and farmers were injured.
“We started treating people – police and farmers – on the spot. We had to do stitches….” he said.
Some 90 minutes later, he said two policemen came towards them and began hitting them with lathis.
“They hit us brutally. At that moment, we were treating a policeman, with one volunteer holding an IV tube for an injured person.
“They fractured arms of three doctors, hit a guy in the skull, nearly opened up his skull. The police officers on our side then had chased those policemen away, and apologised to us,” he said.
Started in 2012, the 5 Rivers Heart Association holds medical camps in underserved areas of Punjab, India. They provide free medical care including health screening and medications for patients.
At this moment, it is providing round the clock care to protesting farmers, which include patients of varying ages, with a multitude of comorbidities, according to an update at its website.
Outpouring love for farmers’ massive tractor parade on Republic Day (Asia Samachar, 27 Jan 2021)