After a clash between hundreds of anti-farm laws protesters and security officials on the Republic Day of 2021 at the Red Fort, and the hoisting of the Nishan Sahib from its rampart, several allegations were levelled against the farmers’ agitation. A union minister said that a “criminal conspiracy” had “hijacked” the protests. The Delhi Police reportedly registered a case of sedition, and also called the violence the “most deplorable, anti-national act” in a notice to a farmers’ leader. The media furthered this narrative. Times Now reported that sources in the Delhi Police termed the violence “pre-planned” and flashed headlines that a “foreign hand” was being probed. The news agency ANI went a step further: it published a piece titled, “Pakistan-sponsored elements and Khalistan sympathisers actively involved in farmers’ protest.”
Two years on, none of these allegations have been proven, while the farm laws have long been repealed. In fact, as the investigation into one of the most sensational cases filed regarding the violence shows, the Delhi Police has still not answered pertinent questions about what unfolded that day, including those about multiple individuals sustaining gunshot injuries.
To rewind to the Republic Day of 2021, it had been two months since tens of thousands of the farmers began massive sit-ins on the Delhi border against the 2020 farm laws. Support for the protests swelled up in this time, as did the government and the mainstream media’s efforts to demonise the agitation. Amid this, the farmers announced a tractor rally through Delhi on 26 January 2021.