Thousands of farmers protesting against agricultural laws breached barricades on Tuesday to enter the historic Red Fort complex in capital New Delhi, and hoist flags after clashing with police, who fired tear gas and used batons to scatter them.
Violence broke out after hundreds of protesters broke away from a pre-approved route tractor rally they were conducting to mark India’s 72nd Republic Day.
In a statement, Delhi police accused those who diverged from the agreed routes of “violence and destruction”.
“They have caused great damage to public property and many police personnel have also been injured,” the statement said.
Protest organiser Samyukt Kisan Morcha said the groups deviating from set routes did not represent the majority of farmers.
“We also condemn and regret the undesirable and unacceptable events that have taken place today and dissociate ourselves from those indulging in such acts,” the group of farm unions said in a statement.
One protester died in a central Delhi street after the tractor he rode overturned in one of the clashes, Reuters reported.
The government ordered internet services in some parts of the capital to be blocked in an attempt to prevent further unrest.
Farmers have been camping at Delhi’s borders since 26 November 2020 to protest against laws that brings major changes to the agriculture markets.
The government has offered to put the reforms on hold, but farmers say they want a repeal.