Approved route, timings for tractor rally flouted as UP Gate protesters reach Delhi
Ghaziabad: Senior farmer leaders on Tuesday expressed their displeasure after several conditions, put forth by the Delhi Police and accepted by the protesters, were flouted at the UP Gate border. This includes sticking to a pre-approved route and starting the tractor rally at an approved time, both of which protesting farmers allegedly flouted on Tuesday to reach and occupy Red Fort, before being pushed back.
Many of the protesters who were headed to ITO and then to the Red Fort had entered Delhi from UP Gate on the Ghaziabad-Delhi border.
Hundreds of tractors, vehicles and trolleys had lined up at UP Gate when around 9.30am, a group of protesters allegedly broke the barricades at the UP Gate flyover and entered Delhi before clashing with the police . One of the major clauses put forth by the Delhi Police was that the tractor rally will begin at noon, after the Republic Day parade was over in Delhi .
Further, the protesters also allegedly played loud music with music systems installed on their tractors, and many of them were fitted with trolleys. Both had been barred as part of the undertaking.
Some of the senior farmer leaders HT spoke to were upset with the developments that took place in the national Capital.
“It had been planned that the protesters would need to be controlled but they wanted to enter Delhi and many even went ahead to ITO and the Red Fort, which were not on the designated route. All the chaos that took place amounts to failure of the leaders to give appropriate directions or control the gathering,” said a senior farmer leader from the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
“Instead, they should have held a meeting Monday night when the majority of the tractors had come in at UP Gate and briefed them about the route. Majority of farmers are not locals and are not privy to the route or roads,” he added.
The Delhi police Monday evening had conveyed to the farmers’ leaders in writing that the proposed route for the tractor rally from UP Gate will move from Ghazipur border, Apsara border, Hapur road, IMS College Lal Kuan and back to the UP Gate/Ghazipur border.
A majority of the route was under the jurisdiction of Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district but most of the tractors allegedly went towards Akshardham in Delhi, where certain groups of protesters allegedly pulled out and brandished swords at the security personnel deployed at the site.
As per the designated route, the tractors were to move to road number 56 from the Ghazipur roundabout but a majority of tractors allegedly moved on to the expressway lanes, after breaking barricades at UP Gate, and managed to reach Delhi.
Rakesh Tikait, farmer leader and national spokesperson of the BKU, had on Monday said that the rally will go up to Akshardham.
The route towards Akshardham was not part of the designated route that was given a nod to by the Delhi Police. Tikait was seen on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway trying to persuade protesters to follow the designated route but they paid no heed once they entered Delhi after breaking barricades at the UP Gate flyover.
He returned to UP Gate around 3pm but declined to comment over the chaos and violence in Delhi, saying that he is not in knowledge of the developments.
“Our andolan (movement) is peaceful and will remain peaceful. It is a conspiracy. I had called for going to Akshardham but Delhi Police had barricaded some points on the designated route. It must be inquired who were behind such incidents,” Tikait said.
Thousands of protesters, which include farmers, volunteers, NGOs and other organisations, have been camping at the UP Gate protest site since November 28 and have occupied the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway of the Delhi Meerut Expressway since December 3.
The Delhi Police in a statement said that the force worked with the farmers for the tractor rally and worked as per terms agreed upon, besides taking up required arrangements.
“The Delhi Police acted with restraint for a long time but the protesting farmers violated the agreed upon conditions and started their march before the designated time and resorted to rioting and violence. The police took all the required measures to maintain law and order. This protest has led to many policemen being injured and caused a lot of damage to public property,” the Delhi Police said in a statement.
(With input from HTC, Delhi)