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Thursday, March 04, 2021

In FIR against protesters, farm laws find mention

The FIR was registered on a complaint by Paschim Vihar SHO Tejpal Pal Singh under sections of the IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: February 1, 2021 4:31:50 am
Paschim Vihar police station, Republic Day, Kisan rally, Paschim Vihar news, SHO Tejpal Pal Singh, IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act, Ghazipur farmers protest, Singhu farmers protest, farmers protests in delhi, Rakesh Tikait, india news, indian expressFarmers and their supporters during their ongoing agitation against the farm reform laws, at the Ghazipur border in New Delhi. (Express Photo By Amit Mehra)

In an FIR registered at Paschim Vihar police station on January 26 against protesters, including farm union leaders, in connection with the violence at Nangloi Chowk during the kisan rally on Republic Day, Delhi Police said the laws were aimed “at providing farmers with multiple marketing channels and a legal framework for farmers to enter into pre-arranged contracts regarding their agriculture produce”.

The FIR was registered on a complaint by Paschim Vihar SHO Tejpal Pal Singh under sections of the IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act. When contacted, Singh said, “I am not authorised to speak to the media. My DCP is authorised to speak to the media.” DCP (Outer district), Dr A K Koan could not be reached for a comment.

The FIR stated 18 policemen were injured and 15 men from various districts of Malwa region of Punjab were detained.

Referring to the Presidential assent to the Bills on September 27, 2019, the FIR, a copy of which was accessed by The Indian Express, noted that “… some people objected to the Bills and labelled these corporate friendly and anti-farmer”.

“The laws were initially protested mainly by some farmers in Punjab, and some political parties joined in on the pretext that the laws would hurt the farmer’s earnings… canards were spread that farmers will lose their land to corporates and APMC-run mandis will cease to exist, further the government will do away with minimum support price for agricultural produce. The government… tried to dispel the misgivings but protests started which initially remained localised in Punjab. On 26.11.2020, some protesting farmers were stopped by Haryana Police from marching towards Delhi for protesting against the said farm laws. Violence broke out and the above protesting farmers and their leaders broke through the barricades and continued with their march towards Delhi. On 27.11.2020, protesters started travelling with their tractors and trolleys to borders of Delhi and Haryana. Police arrangement was in place at Tikri border to stop them from marching towards Delhi,” read the FIR.

It detailed “11 rounds of negotiations between union cabinet ministers and 36 farm union leaders and others”, giving the contact details of all 36 leaders.

The FIR also stated that the Supreme Court intervened and stayed implementation of the laws till the outcome of the report by a committee it set up. “The central government also proposed to stay implementation of the laws for one-and-a-half years. However, on 22.01.2021, negotiations broke down and resulted in a stalemate,” it said.

Meanwhile, a team of cyber experts from Gandhinagar-based National Forensic Science University is joining the Delhi Police in its probe into the violence at Red Fort.

Seniormost serving and retired police officials in Punjab, meanwhile, raised question mark over the contents of the FIR.

A senior rank serving police officer in Punjab, requesting not to be named, said that defending agri laws was not the prerogative of the police and the FIR should have simply mentioned incident details, “as it was simply a first information report”.

“This is totally uncalled for. An FIR is about incidents and offences made. To comment on farm laws is out of place for the police,” said former Punjab DGP Sarabjit Singh, who had a stint as state police chief from 1999 to 2002 before he went on central deputation and retired from the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) in May 2004.

“They can say this agitation was against the farm laws. But to comment on the laws is out of place. Police has to record the information given by somebody or in case they say source report they are supposed to record that information given by source. Sometimes, an FIR is filed suo motu by police. Offence is discussed and then it is made out after the incident [which penal sections are to be made in the FIR],” said the retired police officer, adding that circumstances may be taken into consideration, but “at the most FIR would say farmers protested against the farm laws.”

Asked whether including such details in an FIR background was a normal practise, MPS Aulakh, who retired as Punjab DGP prisons in 2005, said, “No. An FIR at the most would say farmers protested against these laws. There is no need in the FIR, especially by any government servant who is registering this, to comment on merits and demerits of the Acts as such.”

Aulakh, a 1970 batch Indian Police Cadre (IPS) officer of Gujarat batch who was shifted to Punjab cadre in 1984, had twice had a stint with Intelligence Bureau before he retired as DGP Prisons in Punjab.

“I am not aware of any such practice in Punjab at least. What are the merits of demerits of the said Acts that is not the role of police officers to mention. Factual information regarding commission of crime is to be mentioned…I am not sure how would judiciary react to this,” said Aulakh, adding, “Any police officer will tell you that such details are not really called for in an FIR for mentioning merits or demerits of the laws”

Former UP DGP Prakash Singh too said this was not normal practice. He added that in the FIR “fact of offence, the fact which constitutes the violation of law is mentioned”. Singh, who also served as BSF DG and Assam Police DG, however added, “Maybe it is required in a particular situation..I have to see the FIR”.

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