Determined to prevent a repeat of the January 26, 2021 incident, in which protesting farmers clashed with cops on the capital’s streets, Delhi Police is leaving no stone unturned in its preparations to stop farmers from entering the city on Tuesday.
Delhi Police, sources said, is on high alert ahead of the farmers’ march to the national capital. About 200 farmer organisations are part of the protest plan. They have several demands, including a law to guarantee Minimum Support Price and pension benefits.
The capital’s cops, sources said, are blocking the city’s borders with Haryana by placing massive containers. Cranes have been deployed to move these barriers if farmers try to cross into Delhi. In fact, Haryana too has brought in cement barriers to ensure that the protesting farmers cannot enter Delhi.
The cops of Haryana and Punjab are reportedly using tractors to simulate the protest and practise how they will respond. A total of 40 such rehearsal using tractors — 10 in Haryana, 30 in Punjab — have been held so far.
In Delhi, cops are holding drills to practise firing teargas shells if farmers refuse to stop. A video accessed by NDTV shows cops lining up and firing teargas shells in an open area in north Delhi. The exercise, meanwhile, has left local residents in discomfort. Many of them complained of burning sensation in their eyes after the drill. “I feel a burning sensation in my eye and nose. It seems my eyes and nose have got blocked,” a local resident told news agency ANI.
Intelligence inputs say as many as 20,000 farmers with 2,000 tractors may try to enter Delhi day after tomorrow. These farmers are from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. The cops fear ant-social elements can enter the agitation and disrupt law and order.
The cops have also factored in that farmers may use cars, two-wheelers, Metro or buses to hoodwink police. Some farmers, they said, may also come beforehand and gather outside the homes of VIPs such as the Prime Minister, ministers and BJP leaders. Women and children, sources said, may also be involved in the protests.
Delhi Police is also keeping a close watch on social media in the run-up to the protest. The foolproof preparations must be seen against the backdrop of the shocking sights on Delhi roads during the 2020-21 farmers’ agitation against three central laws. On January 26, 2021, farmers had entered Delhi and a section of the protesters had turned violent. Some of them had also reached Red Fort and hoisted farmer unions’ flag from its ramparts. Hundreds were injured and over 30 police vehicles damaged as farmers clashed with cops.
Haryana, too, has geared up to stop the farmers at Delhi borders. Cement barriers, barbed wires and sandbags are in place. Water cannons and drones have also been pressed into action. As many as 50 paramilitary companies have been called in to block the farmers.