Delhi Police gear up for tractor parade; Haryana police issue advisory to people travelling to Delhi


NEW DELHI: As hundreds headed to Delhi from neighbouring states for the farmers' tractor parade on the Republic Day, the Delhi Police on Sunday said it is making tight security arrangements due to inputs about possible attempts to disrupt the rally while Haryana authorities advised people to avoid travelling to the national capital.

Deependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), claimed that over 300 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the tractor parade.

In a circular, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Srivastava directed that all officers and personnel, as well as Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and others, posted for the Republic Day Parade security arrangements should be prepared for an extended deployment to maintain law and order in the wake of the tractor parade.

"Over 300 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan during January 13 to 18 to disrupt the tractor rally by farmers by misleading people. There are inputs about the same from different agencies too.

"It will be a challenging task for us but the rally will be conducted amid tight security after the Republic Day parade is over," Pathak said at a press conference.

While police tried to convince farmer leaders to hold their tractor parade outside the national capital, they were adamant about holding it on Delhi's busy Outer Ring Road.

An agreement was reached during the fourth round of talks on Friday.

On Sunday, police said the farmers' proposed tractor rally will start after the time period of the Republic Day celebration has ended.

The rally will be held from Delhi's three border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur -- and adequate security will be provided to it, police said.

Authorities in Haryana have also issued advisories against unnecessary travel towards Delhi over the next couple of days.

The Haryana Police said there would be disruptions in vehicular movement on the national highway from Karnal and Rohtak towards Delhi during January 25-27.

"Traffic on KMP-KGP expressway will also be impacted and interchanges at Kundli, Assaudha and Badli will not be accessible to traffic movement on these dates," a police advisory said.

"Therefore, all commuters are being advised not to use these routes on these dates to avoid any inconvenience," it added

Thousands of tractors were seen on the highways in Haryana heading towards Delhi, resulting in traffic congestion at several points on the GT Road, a police officer in Karnal said.

Sonipat Deputy Commissioner Shyam Lal Poonia said commuters were advised to use routes suggested by the local police in case travel towards Delhi was unavoidable.

A group of 500 tractors-trolleys left Amritsar and several others batches from Phagwara, Hoshiarpur and other places of Punjab also moved towards the national capital to take part in the tractor parade, farmer leaders said.

Kisan Sangharsh Union leader Baldev Singh Verka in Amritsar said, "Today as many as 500 more tractor trolleys left for Delhi to join the tractor parade.

"Each tractor-trolley will carry 20 persons along with bedding and meal arrangement for the fourteen-hour-long journey to Delhi".

He said on Saturday, around seven hundred tractor trolleys had left for Delhi.

Gurbachan Singh Chabba, spokesperson of the Kisan Sangarsh Committee said so far, around 12,000 tractors had already left Amritsar and Tarn districts.

Meanwhile, farmer leaders appealed to those participating in the Republic Day tractor march to carry enough ration for 24 hours and ensure that the rally remains peaceful.

No one should carry any weapon or drink alcohol. Banners carrying inciting messages are not allowed, a farmer leader said.

Three routes, originating from Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur border points, have been finalized for the march, he said.

Those starting from the Singhu border will traverse Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Bawana, Qutabgarh, Auchandi border and Kharkhoda toll plaza. The entire route will be 63 kilometers long.

The 62-km long second route, starting from the Tikri border, will pass through Nagloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda border and Rohtak bypass and Asoda toll plaza, the farmer leaders said.

Tractors starting from Ghazipur will drive through Apsara border, Hapur road and Lal Kuan. Covering 68 kilometers, it is the longest route for the march.

The farmer leaders will be at the front in their cars.

All vehicles will have to return to the originating place. No one will try and stop midway without a valid reason, the farmer leaders said.

Each tractor will carry a tricolour and there will be folk music and patriotic songs.

Only five people per tractor will be allowed and strict vigil is being maintained to thwart any criminal activity , they said.

You are requested to carry jackets and blankets considering the weather. Everyone has to return to the starting point (their base), one of the leaders said.

Farmer leaders said the tractor parade will remain peaceful and will not affect the official Republic Day parade in any way.

Earlier in the day, a member of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a joint front of the protesting farmer unions, said the tractor parade will start after the official Republic Day parade concludes at Rajpath.

A war room has been set up at each protest site to ensure effective coordination during the parade. There will be 40 members, including doctors, security personnel and social media managers, in each of these rooms, the SKM member said.

Around 40 ambulances will be stationed along the route to attend to any medical emergency.

Another farmer leader said around 3,000 volunteers have been deployed to ensure that the parade remains peaceful and no untoward incident takes place. The volunteers have been given badges and identity cards.

A team of ex-servicemen participating in the protest will also keep an eye on the security situation. A team of mechanics has also been created to repair tractors if the need arises.

Since November last year, farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the Centre's three new agriculture laws at several Delhi border points, including Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, demanding that the legislation be repealed.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that these laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of minimum support price and do away with the 'mandi' (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. (PTI)