The Delhi Police on Friday began the exercise of removing the barricades, which were placed at various Delhi border areas including Tikri and Ghazipur, in view of farm protests, from the past 11 months. In an exclusive interview to India TV, Delhi Commissioner of Police Rakesh Asthana said that by this move, they wanted to send across a positive message.
Talking about the move, Asthana said that plans were underway for a long time. "We had talks with farmer union leaders before, and a discussion regarding removal of barricades from protest sites had also taken place at the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs). Apart from this, talks were also held with UP and Haryana government officials", Asthana said.
Taking congnizance of the traffic disruptions at various protest sites, the decision was implemented, Asthana noted. "Barricades are removed at the Tikri and Ghazipur borders, as a pilot of the move. Now that one part of the carriageway in open, traffic disruptions can get relaxed".
Asthana also asserted that the move is intented to represent a positive move. Meanwhile, some farmers have also said that removal of barricades clears their way inside the city. Addressing this, Asthana said that the law and order situation in the city will be dealth with accordingly. " It is our primary task to make sure that law and order situation in Delhi is not disturbed.", he said.
Bhartiya Kisan Union Leader Rakesh Tikait was earlier heard saying that tents won't be removed from protest sites at the Delhi borders. Addressing this, Asthana said, "These tents are made outside the national capital in Uttar Pradesh. Hence, its upto the UP Police to ensure that law and order is maintained at these sites".
Since the removal of barricades, several farmer unions have alleged that the move by Delhi Police only intends to put a show in front of the Supreme Court. Asthana refuted such claims and said, "Plans were underway for the move for a long time. The decision was taken by the Delhi Police after several meetings".
Speaking about the likeliness of a possible conflict with farm union leader Rakesh Tikait, Asthana said, "We will face any conflict head-on, and the situation will be dealt with accordingly".
Four out of the eight layers of barricades at the Tikri border have been removed. However, the cement barricades are still there and the road remains closed for commuters, an officer said.
In videos doing the rounds on social media, JCB machines were seen removing blockades at the Tikri border. Sources in the Delhi Police said that such exercise is likely to be launched at Singhu and Ghazipur border points in the coming days.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at the three borders points --- Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur --- protesting the Centre's three farm laws since November 26, 2020.