With Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) permitting protesting farmers to hold what they call the Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar in the heart of New Delhi till August 9, there was hectic activity at the site. Before Delhi police commissioner Balaji Srivastava visited the capital’s traditional protest space to take stock of the situation, several layers of barricades had already been erected and paramilitary personnel deployed there.
The security cameras installed at Jantar Mantar, which is close to Parliament House, have been inspected to ensure the cops can monitor the situation. DDMA has directed that the protesters be conveyed to the site in buses with police escorts. Strict observance of Covid-appropriate behaviour is to be enforced. DDMA has allowed a maximum of 200 protestors at Jantar Mantar each day from July 22 to August 9 between 11am and 5pm.
Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation of farmers’ bodies, said that in order to avoid a reprise of the violence that broke on January 26 when the agitating farmers entered Delhi from their sit-in locations on the borders, only 200 people bearing identity cards will participate daily in the Kisan Sansad. The list of the 200 will be shared with police each day. The approval for the extension of the farmers’ protest from the border sites to Jantar Mantar was given by lieutenant governor and DDMA chairperson Anil Baijal. Darshan Pal, SKM leader, said “We have capped the number of people who will be protesting at 200.
Each of the 200 will have to submit a copy of their Aadhaar card. We will give them identity cards to hang around their necks for quick identification. As Parliament’s monsoon session is in progress, our Kisan Sansad too will carry on from 11am to 5pm every day. In order to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour, the 200 protestors will commute in five buses every morning.” There, the protesters will appoint a ‘speaker’ and ‘deputy speaker’ each day to coordinate the discussions on agrarian issues. “We want to protest peacefully,” said Pal. “The seating arrangement at Jantar Mantar has been done keeping social distancing requirements in mind. On July 26, when the movement completes eight months, only women protestors will participate here. On August 9, since it’s the anniversary of the Quit India Movement, we will conduct a special session at Jantar Mantar.”