The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Friday denied permission to allow the police to convert nine city stadiums as temporary jails to detain farmers protesting against the Centre’s agricultural laws.
Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain in a statement supported the demands of the farmers, saying that the Centre should agree to them. “Putting farmers in jails in not a solution [for the protests],” Jain said. “Protesting in a non-violent manner is a constitutional right. People cannot be put in jails for this. Therefore, the Delhi government denies permission to the Delhi police to convert stadiums into jails.”
The Delhi Police, which is under the ambit of the central government, sought permission from the Aam Aadmi party government earlier in the day. The police had earlier said they will not allow the protesting farmers to enter the national Capital. But, Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma gave permission later to allow them to protest peacefully at the Nirankari Samagam Ground in Burari area.
Dozens of farmers’ leaders have been detained since Thursday. The authorities from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have taken extraordinary measures to set up blockades on highways, parking buses, trucks and other large vehicles. At some places, they even dug up trenches to obstruct farmers, many of whom camped on highways for the night in biting cold.
The police, on Thursday as well as Friday, used water cannons and tear gas on farmers gathered at Delhi-Haryana border near Ambala. Dramatic scenes unfolded at the border as the farmers threw barricades set up by the police into a river. They also clashed with the police on a bridge.
The farmers are protesting against the three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – that were passed in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Farmers and traders have also vehemently opposed the new laws, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.