Two days after the events of Republic Day that saw the farmers’ tractor rally against Centre’s farm laws turn violent, tensions are still brewing high in Delhi. As numbers have dwindled at protest sites across borders adjoining Delhi, the Ghaziabad and Uttar Pradesh government have asked farmers to vacate the areas.
While the Ghaziabad administration has given an ultimatum to protesting farmers to vacate UP Gate by Thursday midnight, failing which they would be removed, the UP government has ordered all its DMs and SSPs to ensure the end of all farmers’ protests in the state.
“Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey has communicated to the protestors camping at the UP Gate at Delhi border to vacate the spot by tonight or the administration will remove them,” said a district official.
The central government has also extended the deployment period of four companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) till February 4 to maintain law and order situation in Ghaziabad in view of the protests. Their deployment was till January 28.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said the protesting farmers will not move from Ghazipur site. “We will not move from here. We will commit suicide but won’t end protest until the farm bills are repealed,” he said, adding that the administration had removed basic facilities including water and electricity supply. “We’ll get water from our villages.”
But his brother Naresh Tikait, who is President of the same union, said that the over two-month-long farmers’ agitation will end on Thursday.
A confrontation was building up at the UP Gate in Ghazipur bordering Delhi with heavy security deployed while frequent power cuts were witnessed in the evening at the protest site, where BKU members, led by Rakesh Tikait, have stayed put since November 28.
Here’s what the situation looks like for now:
Farmer Unions Meet Tomar
Members of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lok Shakti) and BKU (Ekta) met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday. They said they were also hurt by the Red Fort incident, adding the government had assured them it would continue with commitments made during talks with farmers.
Crowds Thinned, Some Services Stopped
The crowd at protest sites at Singhu and Tikri borders was visibly thin on Thursday. But farmer unions said it was because the protesters, who had come to the national capital to take part in the January 26 march, have returned home.
Additional police personnel were deployed at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders — the three main sites where farmers have been protesting — as a preventive measure. The Singhu border, one of the major protest sites that has been home to thousands of farmers for over two months, was noticeably less populated on Thursday than what it used to be before the Republic day, or even before that.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Urgrahan said there were many people who had come to Delhi to participate in the tractor parade and now they have left for their home. That’s why the site appears to be less crowded.
In Rewari, Locals Ask Protesters to Vacate Site
A panchayat (meeting) of at least 15 villages in Haryana’s Rewari district on Wednesday asked farmers camping at Delhi-Jaipur National Highway to vacate the road within 24 hours. Following the ultimatum, police said farmers staying put near the Masani barrage cut in Rewari on the Jaipur-Delhi highway since January 3 vacated the site by Wednesday evening.
“The protesters have vacated the Masani cut protest site and some of them have moved to Tikri, while some have gone to Jai Singhpura Khera village (in Rajasthan on Haryana-Rajasthan border). Many others have returned home, Rewari’s Superintendent of Police,” Abhishek Jorwal said.
Special Cell to Investigate Events
Delhi Police’s Special Cell will investigate the “conspiracy” and “criminal designs” behind the violence during the farmers’ tractor parade on January 26, officials said on Thursday. The Delhi Police claimed there was a “pre-conceived” and “well coordinated” plan to break the agreement arrived at with farmer leaders to bring international embarrassment for the government on Republic Day.
“The Special Cell is investigating the conspiracy and criminal designs behind these unfortunate events of January 26. A preliminary assessment suggests there was a pre-conceived and well coordinated plan to break the agreement reached between Delhi Police and the leaders of farmers organisations, to indulge in violent confrontation with the security forces, to breach the sanctity of iconic and historical structures and monuments and to create an international embarrassment for the government on the occasion of the Republic Day,” the police said in a statement.
(With inputs from agencies)