February 3, 2021 2:27:42 am
Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava Tuesday defended the multiple layers of barricading at Delhi’s borders, which includes concrete blocks, concertina wires and spikes on roads, saying that the force has “strengthened” the barricading so nobody can break it again.
Barricading and the use of spikes and wires has increased at all three protest sites of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri over the past few days. At Tikri, for instance, there were several layers of security on Monday — two heavy layers of metal barricading; a layer of large stone boulders; followed by the layer of nails, and a layer of concrete barricades. A few metres ahead of that was another layer of stone boulders, followed by yet another layer of concrete barricades after a few metres.
Asked about this, the police chief said he was “surprised” that nobody raised questions when protesters attacked policemen. “I am surprised that when tractors were used on January 26 to attack policemen and barricades were broken, why no questions were raised at that time. What have we done now? We’ve just strengthened the barricades so nobody can break them again,” he said.
Delhi Police has registered 44 FIRs against protesters in connection with the violence during the tractor march and arrested 122 persons so far. Police have also sent notices to 60 farm leaders and 210 tractor owners.
Asked specifically about the involvement of Deep Sidhu in the violence — as has been alleged by farm leaders — and his whereabouts, Shrivastava said, “I don’t want to talk about one person or organisation. This all is a part of the investigation. We have also appealed to the general public to send us videos and photos from that day. We have received more than 1,000 video footage and also photos and mails. We are scanning them and through FIRs, we are investigating the matter. I just want to say that whoever has participated in this violence, we will take legal action against them.”
On Monday, a group of policemen at Shahdara were seen with metal batons fashioned into swords. These had been distributed to 60 police personnel to arm themselves against the protesters. When asked about it, the Commissioner said: “I can’t say anything about the lathis because the steel lathis are not in the Delhi Police weaponry.”
According to sources, the Delhi Police Headquarters has asked the Shahdara district police to roll back the decision to use it as anti-riot equipment. “The decision to use the metal batons was taken after many security personnel were injured by protesters armed with swords during recent clashes,” an officer said.
However, after pictures emerged of personnel holding up the batons, senior officials at Delhi Police Headquarters asked officials to withdraw the decision immediately. “The decision to use these batons was taken by the Shahdara district police and now they have been asked by the PHQ to explain the reason for procuring them. They have also been asked to take approval before distributing them,” the officer said.
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