Farmers set for tractor rally on Republic Day; Delhi Police step up security
Protesting farmers will be allowed to enter Delhi with their 'tractor parades' from three borders on Tuesday amid high security soon after the Republic Day parade concludes as Delhi Police granted permission and its Commissioner asked police and paramilitary personnel deployed in the capital to remain ready to move to parade locations at short notice.
The tractor parade will not, however, enter Central Delhi or the Republic Day parade route.
Raising concerns over attempts at "provoking" protesters, Delhi Police also said that some elements were attempting to create trouble and a social media analysis using sophisticated tools showed that 308 Twitter handles were generated in Pakistan between Jan 13 and 18, which is posting messages that is meant to create "confusion" within farmers.
Farmers leaders and police officials held multiple rounds of talks on holding the tractor parade and a final settlement came on Sunday afternoon when police allowed farmers to enter "respectable distance" into Delhi from three of the five borders where they are sitting in protest against the three contentious farm laws, which they want the government to repeal.
"We have allowed the farmers to enter Delhi from Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders. We will remove the barricades at the border on January 26. The tractor parade will start after the Republic Day parade ends. There will be foolproof security for the parade. The event will take place in a secured route and environment," Special Commissioner (Intelligence) Deependra Pathak told reporters.
"Today there was a short meeting with police officials. We have got formal permission from Police for the tractor rally. As I said earlier, 'Kisan Gantantra Parade' will be held in a peaceful manner," activist Yogendra Yadav told reporters after the meeting.
Delhi Police has already approved routes -- a 62.5 km rally starting from Tikri border and passing through Nangloi, Baprola, Najafgarh, Jharoda border, Bahadurgarh and culminating at Asoda Toll Plaza and a 63 km rally starting from Singhu Border and culminating at Kharkhoda Toll Plaza. The Ghazipur parade will cover around 46 km. However, the farmers will not move towards Central Delhi.
Farmers at Palwal and Shahjahanpur borders also will hold similar protests.
Pathak said Delhi Police has received intelligence inputs from various agencies and states about attempts to create trouble during the farmers' parade, including those by Pakistan to create confusion about the event among farmers and law and order issues through Twitter posts.
While farmer leaders have been claiming that around one lakh tractors will take part in the event, Pathak did not give a number but said more farmers are coming and police could give a number on Monday. When asked further, he said there are 7-8,000 tractors at Tikri, 5-5,500 at Singhu and around 1,000 at Ghazipur at present.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Saturday said around 25,000 tractors from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand will participate in the 'kisan parade'.
Intensifying security, the Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava asked all personnel from city police and paramilitary forces deployed for Republic Day Parade security to remain ready to move at short notice for law and order arrangement in connection with the Kisan tractor rally.
A message relayed to forces said that the personnel deployed for Republic Day arrangements would be required for law and order arrangements for the tractor rally. "Arrangement for lunch for police personnel should be made and they be kept in readiness at their points of duty under the charge of their respective zonal/sector officers," the message said.
Farmers' leaders also said they were planning to have tableaux during the tractor parade depicting the life of farmers, farmer suicides and their protest at the Delhi border.
The protesters have set up war rooms with around 40 members, including doctors and social media managers among others, at each protest site to ensure effective coordination during the parade.
Around 40 ambulances will be stationed along the route, while 2,500 volunteers will be on the route to ensure that the parade remains peaceful.
The government had earlier approached the Supreme Court seeking a direction to stop the tractor parade but the apex court refused to intervene saying it is the police's duty to look into the matter.