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Farmers protests: BKU members stay put at UP Gate despite government showing iron fist

Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government started to clear the Ghazipur agitation site. Look out circulars are used by immigration officials to prevent accused persons from leaving the country.

Published: 29th January 2021 01:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2021 10:45 AM   |  A+A-

Farmers at Ghazipur border during their ongoing agitation against Centres farm reform laws in New Delhi Thursday. (Photo | Parveen Negi/EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Proceeding swiftly in the Republic Day violence case, the Delhi Police on Thursday issued 44 look-out circulars (LOC) against three dozen farm union leaders. They have been asked to join the probe by January 31 and directed to bring their passports along.

Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government started to clear the Ghazipur agitation site.  LoCs are used by immigration officials to prevent accused persons from leaving the country.

The process of seizure of passports has been initiated by the home ministry and is a major decision, officials said, explaining that all people who have been named by Delhi Police in the FIRs will not be carrying Indian passports till the matter is pending.

Officials said the decision was taken on Thursday morning by Union Home Minister Amit Shah who has been holding a series of meeting with top officials of the Home Ministry and Delhi police since Tuesday when the large scale violence took place in the national capital during the farmers tractor rally.

Shah has been continuously monitoring the situation in Delhi, a home ministry official said, adding that the minister is expected to chair a second meeting on Thursday night to review the law and order situation in the capital. 

Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Thursday said that two brass finials on top of the minar were found missing after chaos ensued in the Red Fort complex but were later found in a damaged state.
The case was transferred to Delhi police’s special cell to investigate “international angle” in the ensuing violence at Red Fort. Police has meanwhile invoked a criminal case under provisions of Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sedition charges in the violence took place at Red Fort.

ALSO READ | Delhi violence: Actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu hits out at farmer leaders

Besides the LOCs, Delhi Police has issued notice to 20 other farmer unions leaders including Yogendra Yadav, Rakesh Tikait, Balbir Singh Rajewal Surjeet Singh Phool, Gurnam Singh Chaduni and others in connection with the violence that took place on Republic Day in Delhi.

According to a senior police officer, notice has been issued to all farmer union leaders who attended the meeting with the Delhi Police, agreed to all 36 conditions and signed the undertaking to conduct the rally on Republic Day.

Around 25 FIRs have been registered by the Delhi police in the matter and 19 accused arrested and 50 persons have been detained so far. Around 394 Police personnel have been injured in Tuesday’s violence.

Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government since early Thursday morning removed water and electricity supply from the protest site at Ghazipur in a bid to clear the site.

According to official sources, directions were issued from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to the Ghaziabad administration to remove the protestors from the site and clear the road.

The UP police and local administration has served ultimatum to farmers to vacate Ghazipur border by late night.

Hundreds of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) members stayed put on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway on Friday as the crowd swelled there overnight, notwithstanding the Ghaziabad administration's ultimatum to vacate the UP Gate protest site.

On a call of the BKU, more farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts such as Meerut, Baghpat, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad and Bulandshahr reached the UP Gate by early morning to join the stir, even as the security forces at the protest site thinned out overnight.

A confrontation was building up at the UP Gate in Ghazipur even as frequent power cuts were witnessed on Thursday evening at the protest site, where BKU members, led by Rakesh Tikait, are staying put since November 28 last year.

Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey and Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani visited the protest site post midnight to review the situation there even as hundreds of security personnel in anti-riot gears were deployed since Thursday.

Many of these personnel, including those from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF), left the protest site in the dead of the night following official instructions.

Flanked by supporters at 1 am, Tikait remained at the centrestage of the protest site -- the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, which has been barricaded from both sides, prohibiting regular traffic movement.

Around 500 protesters stayed put at the UP Gate with more pouring in from western Uttar Pradesh in the night on the call of the BKU, an influential farmers' union in north India.

"Excess security force from the protest site has been withdrawn and only a minimal deployment of personnel remains there," a Ghaziabad police officer told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

"Tension was building at the UP Gate due to an excessive deployment of security personnel since Thursday evening," he added.

According to the officer, some BKU protestors were served notices under section 133 (removal of public nuisance) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on Thursday.

Several protesters waved the tricolour with some waving flags of farmer unions such as the Kisan Ekta Manch amid a continuous sloganeering of "jai jawan, jai kisan", while many of them were lying down on mattresses covered in blankets as they braved the bone-chilling cold and wind.

"Zaroorat padhi to khade rehke dharna denge, tum dharne pe baithe rehne ki baat karte ho (I can protest while standing up and you are asking me whether I am going to continue my sit-in protest)," Jagat Singh Rathi, 78, said.

With a muffler tied around his head and a stick in his hand for support while walking, the septuagenarian from Meerut said he has been at the BKU's protest since the agitation was launched on November 28 last year.

Asked if he would vacate the protest site following the administration's communication, Rathi said, "(UP Gate) khaali nahi karenge. We have not seen any such order to vacate the protest site. When the Supreme Court has said farmers have a right to protest, then what? We will do it."

Ankit Sahrawat, a farmer from Muzaffarnagar, said he reached the UP Gate early on Friday along with 40-50 people.

"More farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts will reach here. Everybody has condemned what happened in Delhi on Republic Day but now they have made Chaudhary sahab (Rakesh Tikait) cry. Unke aansu nikle hain, wo sahan nahi hoga (Farmers will not tolerate that Tikait had to shed tears)," Sahrawat, who is around 35 years of age, told reporters.

Tikait says not leaving site till last breath

But as things stood till late Thursday evening, farmers seemed to be in no mood to relent. Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union, gave a fiery speech on Thursday threatening to commit suicide if the farm laws were not repealed.

“I will stay here till my last breath, government is trying to forcefully kill our protest, government can do whatever they feel like, if bullets are fired then also we will continue to protest peacefully. We are here to talk to the government on repeal of farm laws and not going back till that is done.”

Tikait further attacked the BJP government, saying that the administration is trying to frame farmers by “planting” their own members into the protesting group and these were the same people who ultimately led the violence on Republic Day at the Red Fort.

Meanwhile, heavy police presence was reported at Singhu border as the police barricaded a portion of the road in order to restrict the protesting farmers from coming to one side from the other.

Hundreds of Bharatiya Kisan Union members stayed put on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway early on Friday, notwithstanding the Ghaziabad administration's ultimatum to vacate the UP Gate protest site.

A confrontation was building up at the UP Gate in Ghazipur even as frequent power cuts were witnessed in the evening at the protest site, where BKU members, led by Rakesh Tikait, are staying put since November 28.

In a post-midnight review of situation, Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey and Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani visited the protest site even as hundreds of security personnel in anti-riot gears were deployed since Thursday.

Flanked by supporters at 1 am, Tikait remained at the centre stage of the protest site -- the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, which has been barricaded from both the sides, prohibiting regular traffic movement.

Around 500 protestors stayed put at UP Gate with more pouring in from western Uttar Pradesh in the night on the call of the BKU, an influential farmers' union in North India.

"Excess security force from the protest site has been withdrawn and only a minimal deployment of personnel remains there," a Ghaziabad police officer told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

"The tension was building at UP Gate due to excessive deployment of force since Thursday evening," the officer added.

Several protestors waved the tricolour with some waving flags of farmer unions like Kisan Ekta Manch amid a continuous sloganeering of "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan", while many were lying down on mattresses covered in blankets as they braved bone-chilling cold and wind.

"Zaroorat padi to khade rehke dharna denge, tum dharne pe baithe rehne ki baat karte ho (I can protest while standing up and you are asking whether I am going to continue my sit-in protest)," Jagat Singh Rathi, 78, said.

With a muffler tied around his head and a stick in his hand for support while walking, the septuagenarian from Meerut said that he has been at the BKU's protest since its beginning on November 28.

Asked if he would vacate the protest site following the administration's communication, he said, "(UP Gate) khaali nahi karenge. We have not seen any such order to vacate the protest site. When the Supreme Court has said that farmers have a right to protest then what? We will do it."

ALSO READ | Farmers' stir comes to an end in UP's Baghpat; protesters allege use of force by police

The "verbal" communication from the district administration to the BKU on Thursday came close on the heels of three farmer unions withdrawing their protest against the three farm laws over the violence in Delhi on Republic Day.

"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," a district official had told PTI.

Crowd turns thin at protest sites

The crowd at the protest sites in Delhi's Singhu and Tikri borders was visibly thin on Thursday, even though the farmer unions said it was because the protesters, who had come to the national capital to take part in 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 the Centre's new farm laws -- as a preventive measure in the view of the violence on Republic Day that left 394 policemen injured and one protestor dead.

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.

The number of tractors have reduced, and so have the protestors, while reaching from one end to the other end of the street, that were chock-a-block till last week, can be now done in no time.

Farmers said it was because the protestors who had come to Delhi specifically to participate in the tractor parade on January 26 have returned home.

"There is no dearth in our spirits to continue our fight against the three farm laws.

The fact that Singhu looks empty is a mere optical illusion.

"Just because there were too many people in the run up to the parade, now that they have gone back, it looks like this," said Baldev Singh, general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha.

The Sanyukta Kisan Morcha, however, on the eve of Republic Day had announced that all the farmers, who would join the tractor march, would stay back and living arrangements would be made for them.

According to Baldev Singh, the protest site also appeared to be less crowded because there were protestors who had been camping here since the very first day, and had waited till Republic Day before returning home.

"But then some other members of their families will join us.

The protest is only getting stronger," Baldev Singh said.

The agitation to demand the repeal of the three laws was their "single point agenda" and they were not going to move from Singhu until they are met, added Ashwini Kumar, district president, Punjab Kisan Union.

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Urgrahan, whose organisation has been leading protest at the Tikri border, 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.

It is perhaps the low population at the Singhu border that has caused several service providers to temporarily shut shop, including langars, ironing service, and the Kissan Mall.

At the Singhu protest site, most dismissed the idea of the thinning crowd and said the services were unavailable because they were restocking supplies.

"The agitation is as strong as ever. People are going home and returning. Kissan Mall is shut today only because we are waiting for some fresh supplies. It will be open again from tomorrow," said a volunteer of Khalsa Aid that runs the mall.

A similar response was shared by Roshan Singh, who has been running a langar serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at the site for nearly two months.

On Thursday afternoon, the langar was deserted and the stoves were out.

"We served food in the morning but are closed now because we ran out of products. Our enthusiasm about the protest has not at all decreased," he said.

The set up where the ironing services were being provided has simply disappeared.

For Gurjeet Singh, a farmer from Patiala, the movement continues to remain solid.

While he arrived at Singhu in November with a group of 20, only five are currently present at the site.

"Many people have just gone back to take care of things at home. Like one person in our group has gone back for his sister's wedding, another has gone back because of a medical issue."

"What happened on Republic Day was the government's way of maligning our movement, but it has had no impact whatsoever on the enthusiasm of our agitation and we are stronger than ever," he said.

As far as the future of the farmers protest is concerned, the February 1 farmers march to the Parliament stands postponed, and farmer leaders are chalking out their further strategy.

Meanwhile, a fast would be observed on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, said Baldev Singh.

Nearly 400 policemen were injured during the tractor parade of the farmers who have been protesting against three central farm laws at Delhi's borders since late November.

The Delhi Police on Wednesday had alleged that farmer leaders made inflammatory speeches and were involved in the violence during the tractor parade, as it warned that no culprit will be spared.

The police have filed 33 FIRs in connection with the violence during the rally.

Nineteen people have been arrested and around 50 detained.

15 more arrested in last 24 hours: Delhi Police

The Delhi Police on Thursday detained 15 more people for their suspected involvement in the violence during the farmers' tractor parade, officials said.

Nearly 30 farmers who were camping at DDA Ground in Burari were also moved towards the Singhu border to clear the site, they said.

The police also stepped up security at the Red Fort, which was stormed by a large number of protesting farmers who deviated from the designated parade route on Tuesday, and Singhu and Tikri borders, the officials said.

Thousands of farmers protesting against the Centre's new farm laws had clashed with the police during the tractor rally called by farmer unions to highlight their demand for the repeal of the legislations.

Many of the protesters reached the Red Fort and entered the monument.

Some of them even hoisted religious flags on its domes and the flagstaff at the ramparts.

"Around 15 people have been detained for their suspected involvement in the violence on Republic Day and for violating laws," Additional Delhi Police PRO Anil Mittal said.

Nearly 30 farmers who were protesting at DDA Ground in Burari have been moved towards the Singhu border, he said.

The ground will be cleared soon, the police said.

A senior police officer said security at the Red Fort has been stepped up after Tuesday's incident.

Police personnel have also been deployed in large numbers at the city's Singhu and Tikri borders, the officer said.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at various border points of Delhi, including Singhu and Tikri, since November 28, demanding the repeal of the new farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Earlier in the day, the Delhi Police said its Special Cell will investigate the "conspiracy" and "criminal designs" behind the violence on Republic Day.

As of Thursday, the police had filed 25 criminal cases, arrested 19 people and detained 200 in connection with the violence.

Nearly 400 police personnel were injured in the clashes with the protesters, according to officials.

(With PTI Inputs)



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