Delhi police launch probe into Rahul Gandhi’s tractor march to Parliament
Terming it a security breach, the Delhi Police have launched an internal inquiry into Congress leader Rahul Gandhi driving a tractor to Parliament along with other party MPs in protest against farm laws on Monday, senior police officers aware of the matter said on Monday.
They said a first information report (FIR) is likely to be registered in connection with the “tractor march to Parliament”, and added that the inquiry will also look into the failure of the police to prevent the entry of a tractor in central Delhi without prior permission by the authorities. Tractors have been barred from entering central Delhi, especially Lutyens’ zone, since September last year when a tractor was set on fire at the India Gate by some Punjab Youth Congress workers to mark their protest against the three farm laws, said a police officer who asked not to be named.
Rahul Gandhi on Monday drove a tractor to Parliament along with other party MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Deepinder Singh Hooda, Gurjit Singh Aujla, Jasbir Singh Gill and other leaders like Randeep Surjewala, and demanded that the agricultural laws be repealed.
“We have brought the message of farmers to Parliament. Their issue is not being allowed to be discussed in Parliament and farmers all over the country are being suppressed and that is why we are here. These black laws should be withdrawn,” he told reporters. The Congress leaders carried banners and raised slogans.
Senior police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the tractor was brought in a container truck in the early hours of Monday, and kept at the office of Congress Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi at Moti Lal Nehru Marg.
Following the incident, 10 Congress leaders, including Randeep Singh Surjewala and Srinivas BV, were detained and the tractor was seized after being stopped by the police nearly 70-80 metres away from Parliament. As Gandhi walked inside the Parliament, the detained Congress leaders were taken to the Mandir Marg police station. They were released late in the afternoon.
When asked about the police’s allegation that the tractor was kept at his office, Tulsi said, “I am not aware of all the details because I am not in Delhi. But if it has happened, I am proud of it. While the whole country is aghast over the manner with which the farmers of this country are being treated, this (tractor rally) will draw the attention of the central government. The Congress party is actually doing a great job. Everyone should put their heads together to resolve this (farmers) issue. It’s a matter of life and death for the farmers,” said Tulsi.
Officers said the inquiry was initiated also because the tractor was allowed to pass a couple of police pickets between Tulsi’s office and Parliament where the tractor was finally stopped by the police.
“Police as well as traffic personnel deployed in central Delhi are regularly briefed about not allowing any tractor in Lutyens’ Delhi. But the way a tractor reached a Congress leader’s office unnoticed, and it was driven by Rahul Gandhi towards Parliament without being stopped is a matter of serious concern. The responsibility of this police failure will be fixed through the inquiry,” the officer who was also quoted above said.
Police officers said Gandhi’s tractor march is being considered a security and intelligence failure in the wake of the ongoing farmers’ protest at the Jantar Mantar, the monsoon session of Parliament and the Independence Day, for which nearly 5,000 personnel have been deployed in central Delhi.
During the preliminary inquiry, another police officer said, it was learnt that Gandhi left his residence in the morning along with his party leaders with his security detail and reached Tulsi’s office at 3 Moti Lal Nehru Marg.
From there, he came out driving a tractor and moved towards Sunehri Masjid roundabout and then to Rafi Marg. Gandhi drove towards Krishi Bhawan and then moved to Parliament, where it was chased and stopped by some policeman before he could reach the gate of the complex, the officer said.
“The tractor was driven for nearly one and a half kilometres and Gandhi took around six minutes to reach the back gate of Parliament,” the second officer said, adding that the police are also probing if the container truck in which the tractor was allegedly brought into Lutyens’ zone had any permission from the traffic department or not.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting against the three farm laws enacted in September last year that seek to deregulate the agricultural trade. Hundreds of farmers have been protesting on Delhi’s borders since December last year. They took out a tractor protest rally on Republic Day this year that descended into chaos after the farmers broke barricades and entered the capital, and clashed with the police at several points including ITO and the Red Fort.