No halts allowed during Republic Day tractor rally: Delhi Police
The Delhi Police on Sunday said they will focus on ensuring that the protesting farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day does not halt anywhere in the Capital, and that there is no “disturbance” during the programme, even as they claimed to have received intelligence inputs concerning groups that would look to disrupt the event on Tuesday.
The police said they also chose the three routes for the day keeping in the available medical facilities along the way, to deal with any potential emergencies.
The police on Sunday gave protesting farmers an “in-principle” approval for the tractor rallies in the national capital from three of Delhi’s border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — on Republic Day.
The tractor rally has been allowed to set off after Republic Day celebrations end in the afternoon, officers said on Sunday.
The police said they received intelligence inputs about terror groups from Pakistan looking to disrupt the rally. Dependra Pathak, special commissioner of the Delhi Police’s intelligence unit, said the team had analysed Twitter posts and identified 308 accounts originating in Pakistan that were tweeting a hashtag supporting the demand for Khalistan while writing about the farmers protest in the city. Those using the hashtag included Pakistani journalists and politicians, the police said.
The police will be deployed throughout the route along which the tractor rally is scheduled, said. “There will be a police team accompanying the pilot tractors of the rallies from each of the three border points. They’ll be carrying out anti-sabotage checks on the move,” said Pathak.
The police have also made arrangements for evacuation in case of any trouble and the routes were chosen keeping this aspect in mind, he said. “We have identified hospitals along the routes that will help us carry out the evacuation in the event of any emergency,” he said.
Farmers said they had made their own preparations for the day. “We are bringing along 50 private ambulances, a host of vehicle mechanics and carrying extra diesel to ensure the vehicles do not stop. We’ll be moving at no more than 20km/hour,” said Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha.
The farmers will also bring along cooked food and water so they don’t have to halt at any point.
The rally was permitted after the farmers agreed to a host of terms and conditions, said the police. “The tractors will not be accompanied by trolleys, they won’t demonstrate anywhere along the route, they won’t halt anywhere or set up tents, they’ll allow emergency vehicles to pass and in case of an emergency, clear the roads for an evacuation plan,” said a senior police officer, who asked not to be identified.
Apart from this, the farmers must have their own teams of traffic marshals, first-aid teams, and fire fighting equipment. “They are also required to keep Covid-19 guidelines in mind, and ensure no more than five farmers are on one tractor. All of them must wear masks,” said the officer.
No firearms or swords are allowed during the tractor rally.
Most farmers who are coming to the national capital just for the tractor rally are expected to return to their villages at the end of the event.
“But those who were at the protest sites previously will continue to stay,” said Sandhu.
While police officers said they hoped the number of tractors won’t exceed 30,000, farmer leaders said there will be over 200,000 vehicles at the rally.