Left with no option: Govt defends Delhi Police action on farmers
The minister did not specifically respond to another question that asked the Union home ministry for evidence that “terrorists infiltrated the farm agitation”.
The Centre on Tuesday said the Delhi Police were left with no option but to use tear gas, water cannons and mild force to control the crowd after the tractor rally by protesting farmers in the national capital turned violent on January 26. The Union ministry of home affairs also informed Parliament that the Delhi Police have registered 39 cases against the farmers’ protesting against the three farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi between September to December 2020.
“As regards the use of tear gas and resorting to Lathi charge against protesting farmers by the Delhi Police, it has been reported by Delhi Police that at Delhi border, large convoys of protesting farmers in tractor trolleys tried to furiously force their way and go past Police barricades to enter Delhi to mark their protest against the recently enacted ‘Farm Laws’,” minister of state for home affairs G Kishan Reddy said in his written reply in the Lok Sabha.
“They aggressively resorted to rioting, damage to Government property and used criminal force to deter public servants from the discharge of their duty, thereby inflicting injuries to the on-duty police personnel. Moreover, social distancing was not followed by the farmers/protestors and they gathered in large numbers without face masks amid Covid-19 pandemic. The farmers’ actions left the Delhi Police with no option but to use tear gas, water cannons and mild force to control the crowd,” Reddy said.
Reddy also said that Delhi Police, which report to the MHA, have also informed the Centre that one case of suicide has been reported to them during the protest against the farm laws at the Delhi border. The minister did not specifically respond to another question that asked the Union home ministry for evidence that “terrorists infiltrated the farm agitation”.
Delhi Police commissioner SN Shrivastava, whose department has been under fire for the heightened security at the Ghazipur and Tikri borders of the national capital, also defended the action. “I am surprised that when tractors were used, police were attacked, barricades were broken on January 26, no questions were raised. What did we do now? We have just strengthened barricading so that it's not broken again,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Shrivastava, who had visited the Ghazipur border on Monday to inspect the security arrangements, was replying to a question about the barricading at Delhi’s borders.
Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.