Farmer protest to begin at 11am, area around Jantar Mantar turns into a fortress
The Delhi Police has barricaded the entire area around Jantar Mantar, ahead of a planned protest by the farmers, who have been pushing for the repeal of three farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year. The sit-in, called 'Kisan Panchayat', will start near Parliament in a renewed push to pressure the government to repeal the laws.
A large posse of policemen and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed at the site of the protest and heavy barricading put in place. The police have already enveloped parts of the national capital - like Singhu, Tikri and other places where farmers gave been protesting - under triple-layered security cover.
"We have placed preventive arrangements to avoid the entry of any miscreant at the Tikri border. The arrangement has been put in place as they (farmers) haven't received permission to hold protest here," Parvinder Singh, DCP (Outer District), was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Delhi Police on Wednesday permitted farmers to hold the demonstration after they took an undertaking from the protesters that they would not march towards Parliament. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has allowed the protest to go on from 11am to 5pm, and permitted only 200 protesters per day who have to follow Covid-19 protocols. The permission has been granted from July 22 to August 9.
On Thursday, 200 protesters will gather at Jantar Mantar, a large Mughal-era observatory in central New Delhi that has witnessed countless protests in recent decades.
The farmers are getting ready to reach the venue in buses from the Singhu border (near Haryana). Their leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait has said that he will go to Jantar Mantar along with the protesting farmers to monitor Parliament proceedings during the ongoing monsoon session. The session will end in early August.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on major highways leading to New Delhi for more nearly eight months.
The farmers took out a tractor rally on January 26 (Republic Day) in Delhi during which the angry protesters clashed with police after driving their vehicles into security barriers. More than 80 police officers were injured across the city.
The farmers are demanding the withdrawal of the laws which they say favour large private retailers who, prior to the new laws, were not permitted to procure farm goods outside government-regulated wholesale grain markets.
The government says the laws, introduced in September 2020, will unshackle farmers from having to sell their produce only at regulated wholesale markets.