Red Fort violence: Delhi Police sees a conspiracy in rise of tractor sales

The “sale of tractors rises to a considerable extent rapidly in a well-orchestrated conspiracy and with the sole object…to take tractors to Delhi for agitation and protest,” says the chargesheet.

TO SUBSTANTIATE its allegation that the Republic Day violence by a section of farm protesters was “a deep-rooted, well-orchestrated conspiracy”, the Delhi Police has cited a “rise” in sale of tractors in Punjab and Haryana between November 2020 and January 2021.

The “sale of tractors rises to a considerable extent rapidly in a well-orchestrated conspiracy and with the sole object…to take tractors to Delhi for agitation and protest,” says the chargesheet.

According to the chargesheet, Punjab saw the biggest increase in sale of tractors in these three months. Tractor sales went up by 94.30 per cent in December 2020, when 1,535 tractors were sold, as compared to December 2019, when 790 tractors were sold, it says.

Similarly, January 2021 saw an increase of 85.13 per cent, with 2,840 tractors being sold as compared to 1,534 in January 2020. In November 2020, there was a 43.53 per cent increase in sales, with 1,909 tractors being sold as compared to 1,330 in November 2019, says the chargesheet.

In Haryana, tractor sales increased by 31.81 per cent in November 2020 (3,174 tractors sold) as compared to November 2019 (2,408); by 50.32 per cent in December 2020 (2,312) as compared to December 2019 (1,538); and 48 per cent in January 2021 (3,900) as compared to January 2020 (2,635), it says.

The chargesheet, filed in May, says there are several video clips of farmer leaders instigating their supporters to “modify their tractors and get heavy metal accessory installed so that the police barricades can be breached”. All these video clips were recorded prior to Republic Day, it says.

There are also video clips in which farmer leaders “are claiming that the tractor rally will not follow the agreed route (and) if they are stopped by the police, they will breach the barricade and enter Delhi at any cost,” says the chargesheet.

The objective of the protesters was “to conquer/get hold of (Red Fort)” and turn it into a protest site to “cause embarrassment and humiliation at national and international level to the people of this country” by hoisting the Nishan Sahib and Kisan flag on Republic Day, says the chargesheet.

Police have cited the disclosure statement of one of the accused, Iqbal Singh, who reportedly said that “if he succeeded in getting the Nishan Sahib hoisted… he would get a cash reward announced by the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) group, an organisation banned by the Government of India.”

The chargesheet cites a purported audio conversation between Singh’s daughter and a relative, in which they reportedly mention a payment of Rs 50 lakh. The investigation in this regard is underway.

Saying that Singh visited Tarn Taran in Punjab on January 19 this year, the chargesheet says the “absconding accused persons who hoisted Nishan Sahib at Red Fort also hail from Tarn Taran.” Citing call detail records, it says that Singh “was in touch with the absconding accused persons through one of his associates”.

“There are vague allegations without any substantial evidence. This is an absurd allegation that poor farmers bought tractors to conquer Red Fort,” Singh’s lawyer, Jasdeep Dhillon, told The Indian Express.

The chargesheet also cites a purported video clip of actor Deep Sidhu addressing the protesters and “calling the other leaders of the farmers’ union to reach Red Fort and take further charge”.

Sidhu’s lawyer, Abhishek Gupta, told The Indian Express, “The police have not produced anything to substantiate this claim. This allegation that the farmers bought tractors in furtherance of the conspiracy is absurd and childish. They are making a mockery of the law.”

A total of 16 persons have been chargesheeted in the case under IPC sections related to rioting, assaulting public servants, criminal conspiracy, several sections of the Arms Act, The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, The Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act. All the accused persons have been granted bail.

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