The three-hour-long nationwide ‘chakka jam’ by protesting farmers was held on Saturday amid tight security, even as there was no such event in the national capital which was turned into a fortress with heavy security deployment by the Delhi Police, paramilitary and reserve forces personnel to prevent any untoward situation.
The Delhi Police had also used drone cameras to keep a tight vigil at protest sites.
Ten Delhi Metro stations, including Mandi House and ITO, were closed for the duration of the ‘chakka jam’ from 12 noon to 3 pm, and reopened after the protest ended.
Around 50 people were detained near Shaheedi Park in central Delhi for allegedly holding an agitation in support of the ‘chakka jam’.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions protesting against the Centre’s three farm laws, had said on Friday that the protesters would not block roads in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand during the ‘chakka jam’, even as it asserted that peasants in other parts of the country would block national and state highways for three hours, but in a peaceful way.
However, in view of the Republic Day violence that had left 500 security personnel injured and one protestor dead, the Delhi Police had made additional measures, including tightening security and intensifying vigil across the city and its border points.
Security forces were deployed at important junctions across the national capital, including Red Fort and ITO, which had witnessed violence during the January 26 tractor rally organised by the protesting farmers.
Multilayered barricades, barbed wires and nail-studded roads at the protest sites were also part of the precautionary measures taken by the police force.
The police also monitored content on social media to keep a watch on those spreading rumours against the force, officials said.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), in a series of tweets, informed commuters that multiple stations have been closed.
“Security Update Entry/exit gates of Mandi House, ITO and Delhi Gate are closed,” it tweeted.
The DMRC later tweeted that entry and exit gates of Vishwavidyalaya station were also closed.
“Entry/exit gates of Lal Quila, Jama Masjid, Janpath and Central Secretariat are closed. Interchange facility is available. Entry/exit gates of Khan Market and Nehru Place are closed, it tweeted.
In the evening, the Delhi Metro stated that entry and exit gates of all 10 metro stations closed in view of ‘chakka jam’ had been re-opened, and normal service had resumed.
At all the three main protest sites, farmers camping there for over 70 days were busy with routine affairs and there was not much activity on Saturday.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Deepak Yadav said although the protestors had maintained that they would not enter the national capital, the security force as a precautionary measure had made adequate arrangements to maintain law and order.
“There are additional deployment of pickets at all the border points. All vehicles are being checked thoroughly at the entry and exit points of pickets and borders. Additional buses had been taken and extra barricades put up at the picket points across the city,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers blocked the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway in Haryana. Those coming to the stretch with their vehicles were politely informed about the protest and requested to turn back.
Biscuits and fruits were distributed to the protesting farmers.
I came to the stretch at 11 am. There were very few people then, but in no time many started gathering and now it is full. The purpose is to remain peaceful and do just what is instructed to us by our leaders — block the road till 3 pm, ” Mukesh Sharma, a local farmer supporting the movement, said earlier in the day.
After the violence on January 26, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Srivastava had accused the protesting farmer union leaders of betrayal and breaching the agreement as thousands of peasants deviated from their pre-decided routes for the tractor parade.
Tens of thousands of farmers atop tractors had broken barriers, clashed with police and entered the city from various points to lay siege to the Red Fort on Republic Day.