Delhi Police beefs up security to stop farmers from reaching protesting wrestlers

Additional manpower deployed, CCTV coverage bolstered, and barricades put up at Delhi borders

Wrestlers, Delhi Police scuffle
Wrestlers scuffle with police personnel on Wednesday night | Photo: Twitter/ANI

Delhi Police beefed up security and surveillance at Jantar Mantar on Thursday (May 4), a day after a scuffle broke out between the protesting wrestlers and police personnel. Additional manpower was deployed, CCTV coverage was bolstered, and barricades were put in place at Delhi borders, too, to prevent the entry of farmers on their way to Jantar Mantar to support the sportspersons.

The late-night ruckus at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday left two wrestlers injured, and according to the police, five of their personnel as well. Amid the high drama, the wrestlers had appealed to farmers and their leaders to come to the protest site on Thursday morning.

Police said as a precautionary measure, barricades have been put up at several locations across the city to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.

Also read: Wrestlers’ protest | Ready to return medals, awards to govt: Vinesh, Bajrang

Support pours in

Officials said they had inputs on Thursday that a large number of people, including farmers, could be heading to Jantar Mantar, and therefore, all the 15 police district heads were instructed to be on alert, especially in the border areas. They were asked to take special care of roads that go towards Central Delhi, which houses Jantar Mantar, a designated protest site in the city.

Notwithstanding the tight police vigil, many people from different walks of life, including Delhi University students and farmers from neighbouring states, reached Jantar Mantar to express solidarity with the wrestlers, who have been demanding the resignation of Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexually harassing female grapplers.

However, a group of farmers coming to Delhi was stopped by the police at the Singhu border, with officials saying 24 of them were detained and their vehicles were kept at a police station.

Also read: Wrestlers’ protest: Supreme Court shuts case after filing of FIRs against WFI chief

Special vehicle deployed

In the aftermath of Wednesday night’s incident, police had initially denied entry to media personnel at Jantar Mantar as well. But later, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Pranav Tayal said there was no restriction on individual entry.

A special vehicle of Delhi Police, Ikshana, which is a live CCTV surveillance vehicle, has been deployed at the site to monitor law-and-order arrangements. This vehicle is equipped with eight state-of-the-art fixed cameras for a 360-degree view of the site.

“The angles of the already-installed CCTV cameras are being adjusted so that there is a clarity on the activities at the protest site in Jantar Mantar. Damaged CCTV cameras were also replaced with new ones to keep 24/7 watch on the activities at the spot,” a senior police officer said.

According to police, as a precautionary measure, barricades have been put up at several locations across Delhi to ensure no untoward incident takes place. Police have also intensified patrolling at the borders with the deployment of extra force and pickets. They have been checking vehicles at city border points to stop a large gathering at Jantar Mantar.

Also read: Wrestlers don’t see SC move to shut case as setback, say protest to continue

What happened on Wednesday?

Explaining the sequence of events that unfolded at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday night, Tayal told reporters that AAP MLA Somnath Bharti came to Jantar Mantar on Wednesday with a vehicle full of folding cots without any permission. “When our police team asked him not to bring any cots inside, some of the wrestlers and the supporters intervened,” he added.

“In the process, a scuffle broke out in which about five of our staffers were injured, including two women. Allegations have been levelled by the protesters that one of our staff members was drunk. An MLC (medico-legal case) of the personnel was conducted, which revealed alcohol was not present in his blood,” Tayal said.

According to protestors, two wrestlers, Rahul Yadav and Dushyant Phogat, were also injured. Phogat has reportedly received head injuries.

Police on Wednesday night also detained Rajya Sabha MP Dipendra Hooda and chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Swati Maliwal who had reached the spot to support the wrestlers. Both were released later.

The wrestlers have been staging a sit-in at Jantar Mantar since April 23. They have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against WFI chief Singh, who is also a BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh.

(With agency inputs)