Police Have Not Obstructed Borders: Delhi Top Cop Rakesh Asthana To NDTV

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Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said security has been beefed up for Diwali.

New Delhi:

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Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana today said police had not “closed roads” in the national capital and that protesting farmers had set up tents at the border blocking routes.

In an interview with NDTV today, the top police official said, “We did not block the roads in Delhi. When there was a problem of law and order, barricading was done in Delhi, it was necessary. Tents have been set up since then.

A large number of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have set up camps along the Delhi border since November 26 last year to demand repeal of three new farm laws.

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Mr Asthana said Delhi Police was in touch with farmer leaders and police officials in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were also in touch. “We are trying to solve this problem and start traffic. I hope that soon this barricading will be removed, farmers will also move and traffic will resume,” he added.

His remarks came while the Supreme Court was hearing an appeal against the road blockade of protesting farmers on the Delhi border. Last week, the court said farmers had the right to protest but could not block roads indefinitely.

The farmers’ organization alleges that the police are responsible for the blockade.

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This evening, a group of protesters went to the site of a peasant movement in Singhu to demand compensation for the murder of Lakshabir Singh, whose mutilated body was found in the area earlier this month, to prevent any unrest by police. Police used batons in Narela near the Delhi-Haryana border to bring the situation under control. Now barricades have been set up and additional personnel have been deployed.

Regarding the security situation during the festival season, as the national capital prepares to celebrate Diwali, the police commissioner said the force was “fully prepared”.

“We are fully prepared. We have been preparing for a long time keeping in mind the input and the situation,” he said. “There are crowds in the streets, markets and other public places. The anti-terror majors are stationed, and we are doing mock drills.”

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Mr Asthana said a crackdown on anti-social elements had been launched and several people had been arrested. “Senior officials have also been asked to patrol on foot, and various resident associations have been asked to take confidence so that people believe the police are present and they can celebrate with joy.”

Regarding the amalgamation of the entire Police Control Room (PCR) unit with the district teams, the Commissioner of Police said, “By amalgamating the PCR and the police station, the police station has more manpower, larger vehicles, increased number of beatings (territory) in their police station area … patrols have intensified.”

“The PCR response time which was earlier five-seven minutes per call has now come down to three minutes and seven seconds,” he said.

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Regarding the recent drug raids in Mumbai and other cities, the official said, “Drugs are very harmful to any society, especially the youth … There are many serious drug problems in Delhi, there are hotspots and many drug dealers are syndicates and networks.” “All senior officials have been given clear instructions to crack down on drug trafficking. Strict legal action must be taken against those involved.”

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