New Delhi: Thousands of Indian farmers protesting against agricultural reforms breached barricades on Tuesday to enter the historic Red Fort complex in the capital and hoist flags after clashing with police, who fired tear gas to restrain them.
Growers, angered by laws they say help large, private buyers at the expense of producers, have camped outside New Delhi for almost two months.
A large group of farmers riding tractors and motorcycles thronged the Red Fort carrying the tricolour and farmer union flags in their hands. A few youths even climbed up the flagpole on the 17th century landmark and put up a saffron-coloured pennant.
Visuals from the spot showed farmers swarming the Red Fort even as hundreds of others played a cat-and-mouse game with Delhi Police personnel near the ITO intersection in central Delhi, which witnessed chaos as security personnel were clearly outnumbered by the protesters.
Other video clips showed farmers chasing away policemen on foot as well with tractors, and trying to remove a DTC bus parked across the ITO road stretch by pushing it out of way with a tractor.
The police fired tear-gas shells and lathi-charged the protesters on multiple occasions as farmers remained adamant to move towards the Red Fort.
Later, Rapid Action Force was also deployed at the ITO intersection.
The farmers, after confrontation with police that lasted for around 40 minutes, moved towards Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, which houses the offices of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Delhi Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Earlier, protesting farmers and police personnel clashed at ITO in the national capital when the former forced their way towards Lutyen's Delhi and damaged police buses with their tractors, prompting the force to use lathicharge and tear gas shells against them.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed at ITO, where the protesters could be seen chasing police personnel with sticks and ramming their tractors into the buses parked by police.
The farmers who began their march from different border points, much before the time permitted to them for their tractor rally, had reached ITO in Central Delhi despite the force denying them permission for it.
Police used teargas shells to disperse the crowd and appealed them to stick to the designated route for the rally and not take law in their hands.
The protesters could be seen riding tractors and trying to drive through the crowd and run over police personnel.
The Delhi Police had given permission to farmers protesting the three farm laws to hold their tractor parade on selected routes only after the official Republic Day parade on the Rajpath concludes.
However, chaos ensued as the farmers were adamant about heading towards central Delhi.