The Centre on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that 43 first information reports have been registered in connection with the violence during a tractor rally by farmers on Republic Day, the Hindustan Times reported. Of these, 13 have been transferred to the Delhi Police’s Special Cell.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, told the court that provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were also invoked in some cases, which relate to the alleged involvement of the banned organisation, Sikhs for Justice. The matter was under investigation, he said.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing a plea seeking an inquiry into the violence on January 26, and the alleged lapse in security, in a chain of events that culminated with a religious flag being hoisted at the Red Fort. The petition was filed by three residents of Uttar Pradesh.

The High Court dismissed the application, observing that a crime can happen in “a fraction of seconds” but the investigation takes time.

“So you started typing the petition right after the incident on January 26 noon” the court asked advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma, appearing for the petitioners. “Do you know how much time is given for investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code? You are a lawyer.”

The court asked the petitioners to either withdraw their application or face dismissal with costs. “You expect the investigations to be completed within two days of the incident,” the judges questioned. “Does the government have a magic wand which it will wave and everything will be done?”

Tractor rally

Thousands of farmers have been camped in the border areas of Delhi for over two months, demanding that the Centre repeal the new agricultural legislations that they say will benefit private buyers at their expense. Their agitation has been largely peaceful.

But things changed on January 26, when a section of the protestors participating in a tractor rally stormed into the Red Fort in Delhi. One protestor was killed and over 300 police officers were injured as farmers broke through barricades and poured into the city, clashing with the police that tried to push them back with tear gas and a baton charge.

Ever since, the Narendra Modi government has launched a crackdown on the demonstration. Police complaints against farmer leaders followed, as did arrest of hundreds of protestors and registration of first information reports against journalists.

The home ministry has also ordered a shutdown of internet services in the three border areas. Though the blockade was officially lifted on February 2, internet services at the protest sites continued to remain erratic.

The Delhi Police has put up elaborate arrangements – digging ditches, erecting concrete barricades and spreading razor wires across main roads at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders of the Capital.