UP-Gate turns fortress ahead of proposed rally, tractors start lining up on carriageways
Ghaziabad: As the farmers’ proposed tractor parade inches closer, there have been hectic rounds of discussions between the officials of the Uttar Pradesh police and farmers’ leaders at UP Gate in which all security, traffic and other arrangements have been being reviewed and fine-tuned. Sources said security arrangements are being beefed up at the UP Gate protest site and the estimated number of security personnel there may reach about 5,000-6,000 in coming days.
Protesting farmers at UP Gate have held several rounds of talks with the government over their demand for repeal of the three farm laws. In its latest proposal, the government had offered to suspend the implementation of the three farm laws for a period of one-and-a-half to two years.
However, farmers are still adamant on their demand of repeal of the farm laws and are now preparing to go ahead with their proposed tractor parade, in which they are estimating inclusion of about 4,000-5,000 tractors, with more expected to join, from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
“We are in touch with the farmers’ leaders at UP Gate and communication is on. In the coming days, the Delhi-Meerut Road and NH-9 will face some traffic issues, but we are planning for diversions which will be only for a few hours and not prolonged. The diversion plans are being fine-tuned and farmers are also in touch with the Delhi Police,” said Praveen Kumar, inspector general (Meerut range).
“On our part, we will not stop farmers from entering Delhi if the Delhi police allow them to move in. We are showing restraint and there will be no use of force. Police personnel have been roped in from different districts in western UP, besides deployment of rapid action force and other security personnel. At UP Gate, we are working with the volunteers of the farmers’ unions to ensure that there is no movement of outsiders at the site,” he added.
The farmers’ leaders said that tractors have already begun their journey from different areas in UP and Uttarakhand and are expected to reach the site by January 24 or 25.
“We are also holding discussions with the Delhi Police to finalise the route of our tractor parade and also to go over arrangements. The routes are likely to be finalised by Sunday. Further, the tractors have started coming in at UP Gate,” said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, farmer leader from Uttarakhand and member of farmers’ committee at UP Gate.
The incoming tractors have started lining up on the NH-9 and also at the UP Gate to Dabur Crossing road in Vaishali.
“We have identified different places for parking the almost 2,500-3,000 vehicles and volunteers of farmers will also help us out in ensuring that their tractors pose no hindrance to traffic. We are not stopping their tractors from coming to UP Gate but requesting them not to go ahead due to the pandemic and adverse weather conditions. Many returned back willingly while others moved ahead to UP Gate,” the IG added.
The entire UP Gate area is divided into sectors and zones and is being monitored through the control room with the help of CCTVs. The police have also roped in local intelligence units to ensure that the protest remains peaceful and anti-social elements are kept at bay.
A senior Delhi police officer in the know of the meeting details said that in-principle, the farmers and police officers reached an agreement on carrying out a peaceful “Kisan Republic Parade” on January 26.
They added that the police have asked the farmer leaders to move a written application along with their undertaking, proposed routes, number of tractors and farmers participating in the rally, and the timings on Sunday for getting the official permission for the rally.
“We will go through their route maps and other planning and give the permission accordingly,” said the officer, who did not want to be named, adding that the Delhi Police will take care of the traffic and security arrangements apart from safety, medical and other emergencies of the farmers participating in the tractor rally.
According to the officer quoted above, the tractor rally will not disrupt the official Republic Day Parade and the farmers’ rally will begin after it gets completed.
“We have reached a consensus that the tractor parade will only be in areas around the borders where the farmers are on sit-in protest. They wouldn’t be coming to central Delhi via Ring Road,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.
Officials in the Ghaziabad district administration, who are in the know of the tractor parade route, said that farmers may be allowed to move to Ghazipur, Anand Vihar and up to Apsara and Bhopra borders near Ghaziabad.
“The final route map is likely to be finalised by Sunday,” the officer added.
(With inputs from HTC)