New Delhi: The Arvind Kejriwal government in the national capital Monday gave its approval for the withdrawal of 17 cases lodged by the Delhi Police against farmers during the anti-farm law protests last year, including one concerning violence at the Red Fort on Republic Day, ThePrint has learnt.
Withdrawal of cases registered in connection with protests against the three controversial farm laws — which were repealed last November — was one of the BJP-led Union government’s assurances that had helped reach a settlement with farmers’ groups. The latter called off their year-long protest at Delhi’s borders on 9 December, 2021.
As of now, the Delhi Police have identified 17 out of 54 cases, registered between November 2020 and December 2021, for the withdrawal of prosecution against the accused, according to documents seen by ThePrint.
The Delhi Police are still reviewing the remaining 37 cases, and have not yet sent a proposal for their withdrawal, said a senior government official.
The Delhi Police sent the file concerning the proposal to quash the 17 cases to Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal on 28 January for his approval. Baijal had sent the file to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on 31 January for Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain’s approval, the documents show.
Between 1 and 15 February, the file moved from one department to another and landed in Jain’s office at 4 pm on 16 February — at a time when the AAP top brass was invested in poll campaigning in Punjab, where the farmers’ agitation was a major election issue. Punjab voted on 20 February.
Approved by Jain, the file reached the L-G’s office Monday evening, a senior government official said.
The anti-farm law movement was initiated by farmers opposing the three agriculture laws passed by Parliament in September 2020. The protesters, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, laid siege at Delhi’s borders in November 2020, and ended their protest after the repeal of the laws in November 2021.
Police cases during the agitation were largely registered in four states — Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. All these states have by now either announced or initiated the process of withdrawing cases.
The Red Fort & Loni border cases
One of the cases identified to be withdrawn pertains to an incident at the Red Fort on 26 January last year.
The protesting farmers, in convoys of tractors, had rallied in the national capital on Republic Day last year, leading to violence and vandalism on the roads as they headed to the Red Fort, the papers said.
According to the documents, around 200-300 protesters and 25 tractors entered the 17th-century monument’s premises through Lahori Gate, resulting in damage to ticket counters, door frames, metal detectors, and baggage scanners.
Another case was registered at the Jyoti Nagar police station in North East Delhi against protesting farmers who entered the capital through the Loni border with Uttar Pradesh, riding 150-175 tractors. According to the documents, they obstructed policemen from discharging their duty and assaulted them.
Most of the cases were registered for violation of Covid-19 protocols and guidelines during the agitation that began in November 2020.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)