Security deployment increased as number of protesters swell at Delhi borders
The number of protesters at Delhi’s borders with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana swelled up on Thursday as hundreds of other farmers and support groups joined the agitation against the farm laws even as their representatives held talks with the central government, prompting the police to almost double the deployment of security personnel.
Around 10 am on Thursday, nearly 500 farmers, mostly from Uddam Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand, sat on one carriageway of the Delhi-Meerut expressway towards Ghaziabad, forcing the police to close one side for vehicular traffic and divert vehicles to alternative routes.
The farmers had food, held meetings and protests, and delivered speeches through loudspeakers on the carriageway throughout the day. UP police officials were seen requesting the protesters to shift to the NH-9 (formerly NH-24) service road where other farmers have been stationed since last Friday.
Multiple negotiations failed and the protesters did not move from the carriageway, following which UP Police increased their deployment and stationed personnel armed with anti-riot gear.
Brijender Singh, a farmer from Udham Singh Nagar, said, “Our leaders had been sitting in Burari to cooperate with the government but they weren’t called for talks on Thursday. This indicates the government isn’t taking us seriously. To make our presence visible, we have blocked the highway.”
Nirdesh Singh, a female leader who had come from Moradabad with a group of 70-80 farmers, including 30-35 women, said they have come to express their solidarity and will stay here till their demands are met.
Around 4 pm, another group of at least 500 farmers joined the agitation from Hapur and Bulandshahar in UP. The group carrying sticks and mounted on vehicles fitted with loudspeakers went past the barricades on the elevated Delhi-Meerut expressway but had to return as the carriageway was barricaded by Delhi Police.
Around 4.30 pm, the group marched to the service lane, dismantled barricades placed by Delhi Police and tried to cross over. As armed paramilitary personnel and policemen took positions to stop them, farmer leaders intervened and calmed down the groups. The barricades were rearranged by the police and the farmers retreated.
Deputy commissioner of police (east) Jasmeet Singh said the situation remained peaceful but as the number of protesters increased, they had to almost double the number of security personnel.
Singh said till Wednesday, only the service lane was blocked but on Thursday the protesters took over one carriageway on the elevated expressway. “This required more barricading and additional forces were called to ensure adequate arrangements,” he said.
The Uttar Pradesh police also stepped up their arrangements at the Ghazipur border. Drones were used for surveillance as the gathering continued to swell and fire tenders were stationed.
The farmers’ gathering at the Chilla border with Noida also doubled since Wednesday but was peaceful. One carriageway from Noida to Delhi remained blocked.
At the Singhu border, which was relaxed for the last three-four days, police and paramilitary personnel geared up to handle any eventuality. Many of them were seen putting on anti-riot gear and taking positions near the two protest sites.
While Gaurav Sharma, DCP (outer-north), said deployment remained as before, another senior police officer who didn’t want to be identified said additional companies of paramilitary personnel were reaching Delhi in the next couple of days in view of the swelling crowd and to prevent any possible deterioration of the situation in case the talks did not end up well.
“Between Mukarba Chowk and Singhu Border, we have set up three points, which are blocked with mud-laden trucks to ensure there are multiple layers of barricades in case the protesters try to force their way into Delhi,” the officer said.
Sharma said the three layers were set up due to inputs that farmers could use alternative routes to get to NH-44 to enter the city. “We’ll remove them soon,” the DCP said.
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- A PCR call was received at around 1 am at Tughlaq Road police station reporting that some people were shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans near Khan Market metro station