Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav took responsibility for the way the farmers’ tractor parade turned out on Tuesday, saying he felt ‘ashamed’ of it.
“Being a part of the protest," he said, "I feel ashamed of the way things proceeded and I take responsibility for it,” he said.
The tractor march meant to highlight farmers’ demands turned into anarchy on the streets of the national capital as hordes of rampaging protesters broke through barriers, fought with police, overturned vehicles and delivered a national insult -- hoisting a religious flag from the rampart of Red Fort, just beside India’s tricolour.
“Violence impacts any kind of protest in a wrong way. I cannot say at the moment who did it and who did not, but prima facie it looks like it has been done by the people that we kept out of the farmers' protest,” Yadav told a TV channel.
“I appealed continuously that we stick to whatever route was decided and not deviate. Only if the movement goes peacefully, we will be able to win,” said Yadav, who has been supporting the farmers’ agitation against the new agriculture laws.
Meanwhile, the Samayukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 41 farmer unions, said they have called off the parade.
“We have called off the farmers' Republic Day parade with immediate effect and appealed to all participants to immediately return to their respective protest sites. The movement will continue peacefully and further steps will be discussed and decided soon,” the farmers’ organisation said in a statement.
Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in multiple places, leading to chaos in well-known landmarks of Delhi and suburbs, amid waves of violence that ebbed and flowed through the day, leaving the farmers' two-month peaceful movement in tatters.
Farmer leaders, who have been spearheading the protest at the national capital's border points to demand a repeal of the farm laws, distanced themselves from the protests that had taken such an unseemly turn and threatened to shift public sympathy from their movement.
In another statement earlier in the evening, the Morcha alleged that some “antisocial elements” infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.