A tractor was set on fire near India Gate in the heart of Delhi this morning during protests against the controversial farm laws, which have triggered widespread protests. The police have removed the tractor and the fire has been put out by the fire department.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave assent to the three bills passed in parliament last Sunday, that have triggered farmers' protest especially in Punjab and Haryana.
"Today at around 7:15 AM, some (15-20) persons carrying tractor in Tata 407 vehicle came at Rajpath, Man Singh Crossing. They off loaded the tractor and tried to set it ablaze. They claimed to be members of Youth Congress Punjab," Delhi Police said in a statement. According to the police, the protesters had raised pro-Congress slogans.
"Today's protest was symbolic and we take responsibility," tweeted Brinder Dhillon, president of Punjab Youth Congress.
"We have to make noises and make the right kind of noises... We are not in the government. We can only fight on the streets. We are street fighters," he told NDTV. "This was the only way we could have made the deaf and dumb government hear," he said, justifying the burning of the tractor.
Punjab Youth Congress live-streamed this morning's protest at India Gate on its official Facebook page. Punjab Youth Congress workers had allegedly tried to set a tractor on fire in Haryana's Ambala on September 20.
Five people - all from Punjab - have been identified and arrested by the police, and the car in which they were travelling has been seized.
"Congress workers brought a tractor on a truck and set it on fire near India Gate. This is the drama of the Congress. This is why people voted the Congress out of power," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted in Hindi.
Huge farmers' protests have been held over the laws, especially in Punjab and Haryana, states that are dubbed the grain bowl of the country. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh held a sit-in in Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
Mr Singh said the burning of a tractor in Delhi "shows the anger of the people". "It shows what people are feeling... their anger. Farmers don't know who is going to buy (their produce from them," he told NDTV.
Protests by farmers against the three farm laws continued on Sunday, with farmers in Punjab sitting on the Amritsar-Delhi railway track. Farmers, under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, have been staging a sit-in on the rail track in Punjab since last Wednesday.
In Karnataka, farmers groups have called for a state-wide bandh or a shutdown today against the three farm-related bills clears in parliament and two passed by the state assembly on Saturday. The bandh has been supported by the Congress, which is in opposition in Karnataka.
The opposition has criticised the manner in which the three bills were passed in parliament and had requested the President not to sign the bills. They alleged that the bills were pushed through voice vote in violation of the rules. The government, it said, lacked the numbers, which would have become clear if a physical voting was held. They also accused Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who was presiding over the proceedings, of colluding with the government.
Mr Singh and the government have said the opposition demands for physical voting were negated as the members were not in their seats while making the demand.
The three farm bills are: The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The government has asserted that these bills will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want at a better price.
Farmers have expressed apprehension that the centre's farm reforms would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big companies.