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70 detained for protesting against farm laws

Motorists entering Delhi from neighbouring States faced traffic congestion due to intense police presence and barricading

At least 70 protesters, including seven women, were detained from Jantar Mantar and Majnu Ka Tila when they were trying to stage a protest against the Centre’s farm laws, said a senior police officer on Thursday.

The officer said that the protesters were shifted to a temporary jail in Hari Nagar. They have not been released yet.

Traffic slowdown

Motorists entering Delhi witnessed traffic congestion due to intense police presence and barricading. Vehicles were allowed to enter Delhi only after thorough checking due to which traffic movement slowed down for several hours in the afternoon.

The Gurugram police put barricades on the Delhi-Gurugram Expressway at the State borderin view of the farmers’ “Dilli Chalo” march.

The commuters alleged that slow movement of the traffic led to long snarls and delays on the expressway. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Deepak Saharan, said the slowdown was usual and there was no jam. “The traffic slowed down in the afternoon due to usual rush, but the vehicles kept moving. We had initially put barricades, but later removed them,” said Mr. Saharan.

Security beefed up

At Singhu border, five sand-laden trucks have been stationed to stop tractors of the protesters. Also, drones have been deployed for security purposes, the police said.

While clarifying that the borders have not been sealed, officials said all pickets were made active, while all vehicles entering the Capital were checked.

Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Shrivastava visited the bordering areas and took stock of the situation.

“Due to the COVID-19, guidelines have been issued in which political gathering is not permitted here and for this, their [farmers’] request was rejected. If they still make an attempt, we have deployed personnel at the borders to not let them enter the national capital. We are also in contact with Punjab and Haryana Police,” he said.

Earlier in the day, asked about commuters facing inconvenience, the Delhi police chief said, “Since they [protesting farmers] have already blocked the national highway, there are going to be some problems, but we will try to sort it out as soon as possible… Instead of coming to the national capital, they [farmers] should go back and not flout any guidelines.”

Pleas rejected

The Delhi police on Wednesday said it had rejected requests from various farmer organisations to protest in the national capital on November 26 and 27.

It had said that legal action would be taken against the protesting farmers if they come to the city for any gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Punjab farmers are demanding the repeal of the new farm laws, which, they said, should be replaced with another set of laws framed after wider consultation with stakeholders. They also want a guarantee on the minimum support price.

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