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65,000 Delhi Police personnel will be on duty on Republic Day amid tractor rally ‘scare’

14 companies of police personnel are currently protecting Delhi’s borders, but this is set to be increased to 20 as protesting farmers plan tractor march.

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New Delhi: The Delhi Police has prepared an elaborate plan to guard the national capital this Republic Day, given the farmers’ protest around the perimeter of the city and a planned tractor rally on the day.

Nearly 75 per cent (more than 65,000) of the city’s 87,000 police personnel will be on duty, supported by heavy barricading at many intersections, checkpoints on arterial roads, iron barricading at borders, and sniffer dogs and metal detectors along Rajpath and the India Gate roundabout, through which the Republic Day parade passes, a senior police officer told ThePrint.

The iron barricading at the borders is being strengthened, and a number of large vehicles, water cannons and cranes will also be stationed there on Republic Day. The police have identified non-functional CCTV cameras in order to replace them.

On Friday, the police also banned the operation of “sub-conventional aerial platforms”, including UAVs, paragliders and hot air balloons, in the national capital for 27 days, from 20 January to 15 February, both days included.

“Due to the tractor rally scare, the police force now plans to deploy over 20 companies at the borders,” said a senior police officer stationed at one of the borders. As of now, 14 companies are deployed at the borders. Each company comprises 65 to 100 personnel from different departments, with a minimum of two DCPs and additional deputy commissioners in each shift.

“The situation first has to be controlled on the borders so that the capital city doesn’t face a law and order crisis,” the officer at the border said.

Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Srivastava has reviewed security arrangements, taken stock of anti-terrorism measures, reviewed action plans for all police stations, and listed out crime-prone spots.

Also read: Nearly 25,000 Delhi Police personnel above 50 years on priority list for Covid-19 vaccine

Additional manpower

The Delhi Police has also asked the Ministry of Home Affairs for additional manpower. A second senior police officer stationed at one of the borders told ThePrint that “a list of requirements” has been forwarded to the government through senior officers.

“The work of listing of deployment is going on at full speed, but it also depends on the situation on ground on that day,” this officer said, refusing to give out more details so “farmers should be surprised”.

The police moved an application before the Supreme Court Monday, seeking cancellation of the proposed tractor rally, stating: “It has come to the notice of security agencies through various sources that the small group of protesting individuals/organisations have planned to carry out a tractor/trolley/vehicle march on Republic Day. It is submitted that the proposed march is slated to disturb and disrupt the august celebrations of the nation on Republic Day and would be bound to create a massive law and order situation.”

The top court has demanded a response from the protesting farmers on the Delhi Police’s application.

Traffic police plan

The Delhi Traffic Police says attempts will be made at the borders to stop farmers so the traffic situation in the capital remains unaffected.

“Traffic diversion plan will be as per the previous years on Republic Day, as they are prepared keeping in mind the parade. On 22 January, a briefing will be given for rehearsal day and 25 January, a briefing will be given for 26 January,” Taj Hassan, Special CP, Traffic said. “Routine checking of all vehicles is being done.”

A senior traffic police officer, however, stated that even if the tractors participating in the rally are successful in crossing the border, they will be “seized immediately” and farmers will be detained.

“The law and order situation here has deteriorated as a lot of the police force is on the borders. Now if they do this tractor march, it will become a huge distraction from crime in the city. Police force and public will both suffer. The Covid situation also needs to be kept in mind,” the officer added.

Farmers yet to finalise blueprint

The protesting farmers haven’t yet submitted a letter to the Delhi Police seeking permission for the tractor rally, as they are yet to prepare a blueprint. In a rehearsal, thousands of farmers had started a tractor march around 11 am on 7 January, moving towards the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway or Western Peripheral Expressway, amid heavy deployment of Delhi Police and Haryana Police personnel.

“The exact locations and timings will be prepared only on 17 January. But we will enter the capital this time, unlike the rehearsal, which we did only from border to border,” said Suresh Koth of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.

“Lakhs of us are coming on tractors, from the villages of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, on 26 January to protest against the government’s dictatorship,” Koth added.

Also read: Tractor rally on R-Day will be embarrassment to nation, Centre tells SC in injunction plea


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