Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) marked its anniversary on November 26 (formally launched on 26 November 2012). As attempts were being made to stop thousands of farmers marching towards Delhi on the same day, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, took to social media to condemn the violence on the farmers. He called the three farming bills that they are protesting against, “anti-farmer” and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – led central government “instead of withdrawing this bill”, is preventing farmers “from holding peaceful demonstrations”, and assaulting them with water cannons. He called this a “crime” against the farmers, and said to be able to hold a peaceful demonstration is their Constitutional right.
केंद्र सरकार के तीनों खेती बिल किसान विरोधी हैं। ये बिल वापिस लेने की बजाय किसानों को शांतिपूर्ण प्रदर्शन करने से रोका जा रहा है, उन पर वॉटर कैनन चलाई जा रही हैं। किसानों पर ये जुर्म बिलकुल ग़लत है। शांतिपूर्ण प्रदर्शन उनका संवैधानिक अधिकार है।
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 26, 2020
BJP is Anti-Farmer
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 27, 2020
A day later some of the onus is likely to shift onto the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government itself. The Delhi Police, which takes its directions and orders from Union Home Minister Amit Shah has sought official permission from the Delhi government to convert nine stadiums in the city into temporary prisons. This has firmly put the onus on Kejriwal again. Will he allow it, after he gave a pro-farmer statement? A litmus test indeed. In the past the Delhi Government had reportedly given permission to allow stadiums to be used as temporary prisons to hold the activists detained for protesting against CAA-NRC-NPR in December 2019. Hundreds, including senior citizens, were arrested and held at various locations across the city, including stadiums, for hours.
Rumors that BJP has threatened AAP govt that if any law and order problem happens , President Rule will be imposed ….So as to pressurize them for permission for jails .
— Kishlay Sharma (@Kishlaysharma) November 27, 2020
Today, November 27, there may just be thousands of farmers who will be arrested if they manage to enter the heavily fortified national capital region, and hold even a symbolic protest anywhere in the city. “The Delhi Police is not under the state government,” is the common refrain from the party in power. This is the most repeated reason given whenever a crucial law and order situation arises. This time, however, a theory is afoot that “BJP has threatened the AAP govt that if any law and order problem happens , President Rule will be imposed ….So as to pressurize them for permission for jails.”
Chilling visuals of tear gas being fired at Singhu border of Delhi-Haryana.
NDTV’s Saurabh Shukla reports pic.twitter.com/Ia4xqL14he
— NDTV (@ndtv) November 27, 2020
#WATCH Delhi: Police use water cannon & tear gas shells to disperse protesting farmers at Tikri border near Delhi-Bahadurgarh highway.
Farmers are seen clashing with security forces, as they tried to head towards Delhi as part of their protest march against Centre’s Farm laws. pic.twitter.com/L67PN4xYKy
— ANI (@ANI) November 27, 2020
This however, should not matter to the Kejriwal-led government, which perhaps may have to create more containment zones, perhaps even a night-curfew, selected market closures if the Covid-19 cases in the city continue to rise. The so-called “threat” of Presidential rule is unlikely to be issued. If the Centre wants it can impose President’s rule in any state, without the state Government’s ‘permission’. No such imposition has been put in place in Haryana, where the police clashed with farmers groups to stop their movement towards Delhi.
On Friday November 27, about 10 tear gas shells were fired at farmers as they approached the barbed barricades set up by the Delhi Police at the Singhu Border. This is the major entry-exit point at Narela in Delhi on one side and Sonepat in Haryana on the other, stated media reports. Tear gas shells had earlier been fired at the Tikri border, in an attempt to top the farmers to stop them from entering the National Capital Region.
However the farmers seem to be determined and prepared to face all obstacles:
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) November 27, 2020
While the Delhi government is yet to formally state its stand on the permission sought by Delhi Police to convert nine stadiums into temporary jails, more metro stations have been closed today by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). These include: entry & exit gates of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, Bahadurgarh City, Pandit Shree Ram Sharma, Tikri Border, Tikri Kalan and Ghevra stations on Green Line. Yesterday, multiple stations were closed in the New Delhi/Central Delhi areas.
For now, senior AAP leaders are using this opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for the way the farmers are being treated. They have also urged the Delhi Chief Minister to welcome the farmers into NCR and reject the demand of Delhi Police to use stadiums as jails.
वाह मोदी जी क्या देश के अन्नदाता ने आपका पेट भरकर, वोट देकर इसी दिन के लिये देश का प्रधानमंत्री बनाया था कि आप उनके साथ जानवरों सा व्यवहार करें. मैं मुख्यमंत्री जी से आग्रह करूँगा कि दिल्ली पुलिस की जेल बनाने की माँग ठुकरा कर, अन्नदाताओं का स्वागत करें. https://t.co/0xcwsmwPcK
— Sanjay Singh AAP (@SanjayAzadSln) November 27, 2020
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, at least 105 farmers were detained on Thursday, and the number is expected to rise with more farmer groups reaching Delhi on Friday. The news report quoted an anonymous “senior police officer aware of the development,” saying that the “Looking at the situation at the borders, we think we will require such places to keep the detainees. We are yet to receive a confirmation.”
Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha also urged the Delhi government to deny the permission. “The farmer of our country is neither a criminal nor a terrorist. Right to protest peacefully is enshrined in Indian Constitution – Article 19(1) and protests are the hallmark of a free, democratic society,” he tweeted.
I urge the Delhi Govt to deny permission for setting up temporary prisons. The farmer of our country is neither a criminal nor a terrorist.
Right to protest peacefully is enshrined in Indian Constitution – Article 19(1) and protests are the hallmark of a free, democratic society. https://t.co/cqMvEb181r
— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) November 27, 2020