The Delhi Police on Tuesday arrested two more people in connection with the violence that broke out after the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally, reported IANS. With this, the number of those arrested in relation to the incident on January 26 in the Capital reached 14, the police said.
The men were identified as 23-year-old Dutch citizen Maninderjit Singh, who is based in United Kingdom’s Birmingham city, and 21-year-old Delhi resident Khempreet Singh, reported PTI.
Maninderjit Singh, who originally belongs to a village in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, was arrested at the Delhi airport with alleged forged travel documents. The police claimed he was trying to flee India by flying to Nepal first and then to the UK. A lookout circular was issued against Maninderjit Singh.
Meanwhile, Khempreet Singh, who lives in northwest Delhi’s Swaroop Nagar locality, was traced to west Delhi’s Khayala area at his relative’s residence, the police said. “With the help of a technical surveillance, regular raids were being conducted at the possible hideouts of Khempreet,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Monika Bhardwaj told PTI. “Local informers were also deployed in the vicinity of the available whereabouts of the accused...he was hiding in a house of one of his relatives. A raid was conducted and he was arrested from there.”
The police officer said that Maninderjit Singh’s presence at the Red Fort on January 26 was ascertained through electronic evidence. “There are video footage on record, which shows his [Maninderjit Singh’s] presence alongside the unlawfully assembled unruly riotous mob at the Red Fort carrying a spear during farmers agitation on January 26,” Bhardwaj said. “Electronic evidence further corroborates the fact that he had also visited the Singhu border protest site on different dates and took an active part in the violence at the Red Fort.”
During the analysis of the videos, the police alleged that Khempreet Singh and his associates were seen carrying a spear in his hand, and assaulting an on-duty police officer at the Red Fort. Bhardwaj claimed that Maninderjit Singh was also seen carrying a spear during the protests on January 26, IANS reported.
The police also traced the routes that the two took to reach the Red Fort in Delhi. “During an investigation, an electronic map was drawn to figure out the possible route taken by the accused to reach the Red Fort on the date of the incident, which transpired that Maninderjit alongside the mob, started moving from the Singhu Border, Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Burari, Majnu ka Tila and finally reached the Red Fort,” the senior police officer said, according to PTI.
Khempreet Singh, on the other hand, reached the monument after joining the mob from Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, and later going through barricades at Burari and Chatta Rail, the police said.
On Tuesday, Maninderjit Singh was produced before a court, which remanded him in four days of police custody. Khempreet Singh is likely to be presented in court on Wednesday.
The police said that Maninderjit Singh came to India in February before the lockdown, and therefore could not return to the UK. The authorities were conducting raids at several sites in Delhi and Punjab, the police said.
Thousands of farmers have been camped in the border areas of Delhi since December, 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.
Following the violence, the Delhi Police 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.
On February 5, the Centre informed the Delhi High Court that 43 first information reports had been registered in connection with the violence on Republic Day. Of these, 13 were transferred to the Delhi Police’s Special Cell.