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OPINION | Democracy Has Been Scarred Today by Farmers' Mobocracy at Red Fort

Farmers hoist flags at the Red Fort during the tractor rally on Republic Day. (Image: PTI)

Farmers hoist flags at the Red Fort during the tractor rally on Republic Day. (Image: PTI)

The image of a flag being hoisted by the protestors at the Red Fort, where the national flag was flying is really unfortunate. It hurt the image of the 72nd Republic Day.

It must have been fairly evident to any police officer that this kind of a tractor rally cannot be smooth. It is impossible to maintain this kind of a rally or a procession which has no agenda but says only that we should have permission between 12pm to 5pm on a set of pre-decided routes. First of all, tractors are not meant for cities. They are meant for rural areas and they are dangerous too, especially in the context of intelligence reports.

I’m sure there must have been intelligence reports from the Intelligence Bureau or the Delhi police, that there are elements in it, who will create problems. What was the idea of holding a rally on January 26 when the police resources are stretched to the maximum? As one who has been part of the arrangements for the Republic Day celebrations for more than a decade, I understand the tension, the angst, the preparations, and the whole gamut of things that the Delhi police and the intelligence officials have to go through.

So I’m not too sure that as a police commissioner, I would have allowed a procession of this kind under any circumstance. Obviously this decision was taken from the top. And if that is so, they would have been prepared for the collateral damage, which has taken place.

Secondly, it is very unfortunate that there were 40 farmers organizations and their chiefs went on talking eloquent all over the TV during the various discussions and there was some self-styled spokesmen who were saying things like it’s going to be peaceful. Then there were intellectuals and liberals who were saying that in America and other places, people are allowed to celebrate their festivals. Yes, they are allowed to celebrate festivals like the Republic Day but not on a day in the same town where there is a massive Republic day parade, which is seen by the whole nation.

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Thirdly, I think democracy has been scarred today. And the image of a flag being hoisted by the protestors on the Red Fort, where the national flag was flying is really unfortunate. It hurt the image of the 72nd Republic Day. And I, as a common citizen, I’m deeply hurt by this kind of mobocracy. This could not be allowed.

Lastly, it is truly unfortunate that policemen were beaten up. The same policeman who was out in the cold for 60 days trying to guard those tents. At least the farmers are inside but these cops are outside. What have they done? They have not taken a decision or have anything to do with farm laws. Running trucks amuck amongst public is the worst kind of example you can give of so-called discipline. This agitation has lost its credibility.

As told to News18 in New Delhi.

The author is a former Central Information Commissioner and Special Director, Intelligence Bureau.

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first published:January 26, 2021, 19:26 IST