Heavy police deployment was seen at several borders of the national capital through Thursday as farmers from Haryana and Punjab moved towards Delhi to join the protest against the new farm laws.
To slow their commute, Metro services from NCR areas to Delhi were also suspended after police asked that entry be restricted at stations.
And Friday promises more of the same.
“Update for tomorrow (Friday). As advised by Delhi Police, Metro services will be available only from Delhi towards the NCR sections. However, services from the NCR stations towards Delhi will not be available due to security reasons till further notice,” the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) tweeted.
Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava visited the borders in the afternoon. “Due to Covid-19, public gatherings are not permitted here. The farmers’ request was rejected. If they still make an attempt, we have deployed personnel at the borders to not let them enter the national capital. We are also in contact with Punjab and Haryana Police,” he said.
“Since farmers have blocked the highway, there are going to be some problems. We will try to sort it out,” he said of traffic snarls at border areas.
Barricades, boulders and barbed wire were used by police to keep the farmers out. At Singhu border, hundreds of personnel from the Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Delhi Police were deputed, along with a poster that read: “Due to Covid-19, on the instructions of DDMA (Delhi Disaster Management Authority), any kind of rally and dharna is not allowed in this area. Action would be taken against violators”.
Meanwhile, at Jantar Mantar around noon, over 70 farmers from the Sanyukt Kisan Manch protested and were detained by Delhi Police. Said a senior officer: “We took legal action against people who were violating DDMA orders. We had appealed to them earlier but they didn’t listen. A small group of farmers from Haryana entered Delhi last night and planned to protest in Delhi but we can’t allow that.”
In North Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila, police detained several farmers protesting near gurdwaras and on the main roads.
At the Delhi-Sirhaul border, where over 100 police personnel had been deployed, the entire carriageway was barricaded and vehicles were allowed to pass through in a single lane. “Security has been heightened from our end and in Delhi as well, so there is a backlog of traffic. Traffic has been slow moving but there has not been any situation of traffic jams,” said DCP (west) Deepak Saharan.
Meanwhile, Swaraj India national president Yogendra Yadav was taken into “preventive custody” by Gurgaon Police as he tried to march towards the capital in the morning. “We have taken him and 10-12 others into preventive custody from near Rathiwas village, just off NH-48,” said DCP (Manesar) Nitika Gahlaut.
Speaking to the media, Yadav claimed that other protestors who were meant to assemble at Bilaspur from adjoining districts of Rewari and Nuh at 11.30 am had been stopped by police near Dharuhera and the Tauru road. “We were joining our friends at the Bilaspur toll plaza but police intercepted us… We had decided to not indulge in any clashes with police at any cost; we would stop where we were stopped and do a peaceful demonstration there,” he said.
“On this Constitution day, the minimum decree of the Constitution is being broken and farmers are not being allowed to raise their voices in the capital of this country,” he said.
Avil Saha, national convenor of the Jai Kisan Andolan, said farmers will reach Jantar Mantar quietly: “They have taken an oath and will complete it — which is that the government should take back this Act. They can delay this march but not stop it.”
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