Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana today said the police “have not closed the roads” to the national capital and it is the protesting farmers who have put up tents at the border which are blocking the routes.
In an interview with NDTV today, the top cop said, “We have not closed the road to Delhi. When there was a law and order problem, the barricading was done in Delhi, it was necessary. Since then tents have been put up on the other side of the border due to which the roads are closed”.
A large number of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi borders since November 26 last year, demanding the repeal of the three new farm laws.
Mr Asthana said the Delhi Police are in touch with farmer leaders and the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police officials are also in contact. “We are trying to solve this problem and resume traffic. I hope this barricading will also be removed very soon, farmers will also move and traffic will resume,” he added.
His comment comes as the Supreme Court is hearing a plea against road blockades by farmers protesting at Delhi borders. Last week, the court said farmers have the right to agitate but they cannot block roads indefinitely.
The farmers’ unions have alleged that the police were responsible for the blockade.
This evening, a group of protesters headed to the farmers’ agitation site in Singhu to demand compensation for the murder of Lakhbir Singh, whose mutilated body was found in the area earlier this month, was stopped by the police to prevent any unrest. Police reportedly carried out lathicharge at Narela near Delhi-Haryana border to bring the situation under control. Barricades have now been put in place and additional personnel deployed there.
On the security situation during the festive season, as the national capital gets ready to celebrate Diwali, the police commissioner said the force is “fully prepared”.
“We are fully prepared. Keeping in mind the inputs and the situation, we have been preparing since many days,” he said. “There are crowds on the streets and markets, and other public places. Anti-Terrorist Majors are in place, and we are doing mock drills”.
Mr Asthana said a campaign has been launched against anti-social elements in which several people have been arrested. “Senior officials have also been asked to do patrolling on foot, and take the different residents associations into confidence so that the public believes that the police are present and they can celebrate the festival happily”.
On merging the entire Police Control Room (PCR) unit with the district teams, the police commissioner said, “By merging the PCR and the police station, the manpower in the police station is bigger, the vehicles are bigger, the number of beats (territories) in their police station areas has increased… patrolling has become intensive.”
“The PCR response time which was five-seven minutes per call earlier has now come down to three minutes and seven seconds,” he informed.
On the recent drugs raids in Mumbai and other cities, the official said, “Drugs are very harmful for any society, especially for the youth… there are many serious issues of drugs in Delhi, there are hotspots and many drug peddlers who have syndicates and networks. Keeping this thing in mind, all senior officials have been given very clear instructions to run a campaign against drug trafficking. Strict legal action should be taken against those who are involved in this”.