High security ahead of Budget to avoid repeat of R-Day

Budget Day: Police intensify security to thwart any protest by farmers

Police are taking these steps amid fears that some protesters may attempt to do a Republic Day-type protest

Fearing protests on the Budget day, police on Sunday stepped up security at the Delhi borders where farmers are sitting on a protest against the three contentious farm laws by deploying more personnel and taking steps to prevent any protester crossing barricades.

Protesting farmers' organisations had called off their scheduled Parliament march on Monday after violence erupted during the tractor rally on Republic Day.

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Concrete slabs and barricades have been erected. Measures have also been taken to prevent tractors and other vehicles managing to cross the barricades by placing logs with nails on the roads.

Police are taking these steps amid fears that some protesters may attempt to do a Republic Day-type protest though the organisers have called off the plan to gherao Parliament during the presentation of the budget by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that the farmers will not come under the government's pressure to end the protest. "We welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that the government is ready for talks. But talks can happen after releasing farmers who were arrested. Protesting farmers will honour the dignity of the Prime Minister, but we are also committed to protecting their self-respect," he said.

On Sunday, police also placed a freelance journalist Mandeep Punia under arrest, a day after detaining him, after claiming that he misbehaved with police personnel at Singhu border, one of the five protest hotspots. Another freelance journalist Dharmendra Singh was also detained but was later released.

Also Read | Media bodies condemn action against journalists during farmers' tractor rally

Congress, CPI(M) and media bodies like Indian Women Press Corps, Press Club of India and Press Association condemned the police action against journalists, including the filing of sedition charges against prominent media persons.

Sharing the video of police taking away Punia, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi, "those who fear truth arrest, honest journalists." CPI(M) said in a statement that the BJP has intensified attacks on media persons using state governments ruled by the party.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed dismay over NCP chief and former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's tweets criticising the farm laws, saying they were a mix of "ignorance and misinformation". Tomar said he hoped that Pawar would change his stand after knowing the "facts".

Pawar had on Saturday said that the new agriculture laws of the Union government will adversely impact the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement and weaken the 'mandi' system.