The farmer protest sites at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders have been hemmed in with multilayered barricading and are being heavily patrolled ahead of Saturday’s three-hour long nationwide highway blockade, “the chakka jam”, called by farmers to intensify their protest against the new farm laws.
The Delhi Police on Friday reiterated that no permission has been granted to protesters for holding the chakka jam or any other demonstration in the city and legal action will be taken against those found disrupting the city’s traffic and law and order.
The protest sites are under multilayered barricading with barbed wiring on top, concrete walls, trenches, nails boards drilled onto roads and netting to stop pelted stones, besides a heavy contingent of security personnel armed with anti-riot gear. These measures, the police said, were to keep the farmers from entering the national capital on Saturday.
The police have also started monitoring content on social media to keep a watch on those spreading rumours or instigating people against the government and the police, senior officers said.
Even though the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farm unions that are part of the ongoing agitation against the three contentious agriculture laws, has announced that “there will be no chakka jam inside Delhi”, police said they have tightened the security arrangements, especially on all borders connecting Delhi with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, keeping in view the January 26 violence during the farmers’ tractor rally.
Officers said checking of vehicles at the city border points has been intensified since Friday evening to ensure that protesters or antisocial elements were not entering the city for Saturday’s traffic blockade.
Apart from thousands of Delhi Police personnel, nearly 15,000 personnel from the paramilitary forces of Rapid Action Force (RAF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) – all armed with anti-riot equipment – will be on duty to maintain Delhi’s law and order during the chakka jam, officers in the know of Saturday’s security arrangements said.
“A full-scale police deployment will be in place at all borders and on streets across the city on Saturday. Traffic police personnel will also be deployed in full strength to regulate traffic. While our prime focus will be on maintaining traffic as well as law and order, those attempting to disturb these will be dealt with strongly as per law. We are in touch with the police force of other states as well,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal.
On Friday morning, Delhi Police commissioner SN Shrivastava held a meeting with senior police officers and reviewed security arrangements. Shrivastava, on Thursday, had attended a meeting chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah at the Parliament complex to review the security situation in Delhi-NCR ahead of the chakka jam. National security advisor Ajit Doval was also present at that meeting.
Farmer unions on Monday had announced a countrywide “peaceful and non-violent” chakka jam on February 6 when they would block national and state highways for three hours (between noon and 3pm) in protest against the internet ban in areas near their agitation sites; harassment allegedly meted out to them by authorities; and other issues. They have declared that all emergency and essential services such as ambulances and school buses will not be stopped.
Elaborating on the security arrangements, a senior police officer, who did not want to be named, said police personnel who will be on duty Saturday have been asked to report to their area of deployment by 7am. Every police station has been asked to keep ready for action at least one sub-inspector and four to five constables along with buses in which arrested or detained persons can be moved away.
Police said they have intelligence inputs that protesters may deflate tyres of vehicles to cause jams on roads, all the police stations have been asked to keep air pumps with them for filling up deflated tyres. “Cranes have also been arranged to remove such vehicles and clear the traffic. Videographers and photographers will also be present for capturing the activities of protesters. We will also be using drones for aerial surveillance,” said the officer.
According to the intelligence inputs, workers of various political parties and student organisations have planned a foot march from Shaheed Park near Delhi Gate to ITO during the chakka jam. “Anticipating that protesters may incite a confrontation with security personnel, we have asked our staff to remain calm and not get provoked in any manner,” a second police officer said on condition of anonymity.