Red Fort vandalism: Police arrest first suspect
The Delhi Police on Monday said they had made the first arrest in one of the two cases registered in connection with the violence at the Red Fort during the farmers’ tractor rally in the national capital on January 26, while six more cases have been registered in the violence and January 29 incident when a group of persons who said they were locals entered the protest site at Singhu border leading to clashes with farmers and police.
With the six new cases that have been registered at different police stations in the last four days, the total number of first information reports (FIRs) pertaining to violence during the ongoing farmers’ agitation rose to 44 on Monday. While 120 people have been arrested, two minor boys have been apprehended so far in these cases, the police said.
Sharing details of the arrest of the man involved in the Red Fort violence, a senior police officer associated with the investigation said on the condition of anonymity that the suspect, identified as Akash Preet Singh, had allegedly attacked and injured a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawan with a sword.
“Singh was also injured in the clash and he had admitted himself at a government hospital in north Delhi from where we caught him. Since he was also tested for Covid-19, we have formally arrested him but is continuing his treatment,” said the officer, adding that the suspect had already been identified through video footage and was wanted for the attack.
Like Sunday, farmers on Monday also said that at least 250 persons who were part of the agitation are still missing since the Republic Day violence and 150 farmers from Punjab and Delhi have formed the “Lawyers for Kisan” platform to trace the missing farmers and provide free legal aid to those arrested during the farmers’ agitation. A helpdesk has been set up behind the Samyukta Kisan Morcha stage at Singhu border agitation spot.
However, the city police on Monday appealed to people not to believe in rumours about the illegal detention of farmers and asserted that the investigation is being carried out in a fair and transparent manner. They also used their Twitter handle to refute the allegations of illegal detention and to update about the arrests and cases registered.
Simranjeet Kaur Gill, 34, a lawyer from Mohali, is one of the volunteers at the help desk coordinating with family members of the missing farmers. “We have a helpline number and volunteers are constantly manning it. Upon getting calls from family members who claim that the protester has been unavailable, or their phone is not reachable, our team checks with hospitals and courts to track the person. We have also made announcements from the stage for protesting farmers to come and share any information they may have on the missing farmers.” Gill added that so far, they have tracked 163 arrested farmers and at least 250 are still missing.
The lawyers’ collective, which works under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, will also tie up with security volunteers at the spot to track if the missing farmer has arrived at the tractor-trolley unit of their village or district.
Narpinder Singh, 37, a farmer from Rauni village in Ludhiana district, said, “One of the farmers from my village had gone to Narela to withdraw cash on Friday when a mob attacked farmers at the first stage. We couldn’t find him the entire day and later got a call from their family the next day saying he had been arrested. The police officers have been calling families back home as intimidation tactics so that more and more farmers don’t arrive here. But that won’t deter us.”
“The information about the cases and arrests has been updated on the official website of the Delhi Police as per guidelines of the Supreme Court to facilitate the public. We appeal to the public to not believe in rumours. Investigation carried out by the Delhi Police is transparent and fair,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Eish Singhal, adding that the kin of those arrested can also seek information from the police stations concerned.
According to the police, notices have been sent to nearly 150 people, including farm leaders, farmers and owners of tractors and other vehicles, asking them to join the investigation and record their statements.
“None of them turned up till Monday evening. We may issue fresh notices to them,” the officer said.
Investigators said that they have received over 4,000 video footage and photographs from the public and other sources after their appeal to assist them in their investigation by sharing videos and pictures of the violence.