Despite promise to drop farm protest FIRs, notices to many, RTI suggests no such order to Delhi cops

The Delhi police said 42 FIRs were lodged during the farmers’ protest. None have been withdrawn, indicates an RTI response.

WrittenBy:Basant Kumar
Illustration of a document saying FIRs pending.

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Many farmers booked in FIRs linked to the 2021 farm agitation have continued to receive notices by the Delhi police despite the Narendra Modi government’s promise to withdraw all cases against protesting farmers in 2021.

Hundreds of farmers are trying to march to the national capital from Punjab and Haryana, calling for the withdrawal of these cases, besides the enactment of a law guaranteeing minimum support prices, among other demands. 

In a letter to the United Kisan Morcha on December 9, 2021, the then secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Sanjay Aggarwal, had mentioned the withdrawal of the cases as one of the conditions agreed upon by the government and the farmers to end the protest.

However, in response to an RTI query filed by Newslaundry, the Delhi police said at least 42 FIRs were registered against farmers during the protests between November 26, 2020 and December 9, 2021, and at least 201 people were arrested. And that none of these cases were withdrawn, the response suggested.  

The RTI query asked if the police had received any directives from the Union Home Ministry or the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to withdraw the cases, but the public information officers of the Delhi police said “nil”. 

An officer of the RTI department of Delhi Police Crime Branch, who did not want to be named, told Newslaundry that “nil” meant “we have not received such an order” and that the investigation is still underway in the FIRs.

While the government had promised to withdraw the cases in 2021, Newslaundry learned that Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Virender Singh, a resident of Haryana’s Rohtak, was one of the many farmers who received a notice from the Delhi police last year in connection with a probe into the several FIRs.”

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Officials at the Civil Lines police station sent Singh the notice on November 22 last year, asking him to appear before them two days later for questioning. As per the notice, Singh was summoned in FIR 522/2020 registered at Civil Lines police station on November 26, 2020. Many other farmers are also reportedly named in the FIR registered under section 188 (violation of Epidemic Act), section 3 of the ED Act, and section 51 of the DM Act of the Indian Penal Code.

ASI Arun Singh, the investigating officer who sent the notice to Singh, told Newslaundry, “Many people were joining the farmers’ protest under his [Virender Singh’s] leadership. He was stopped at a gurdwara; that is the case about.”

Notice issued to Virender Singh.

Seven days later, Bharatiya Kisan Union general secretary Yudhveer Singh, who was headed to Colombia to attend the International Farmers Conference, was detained at the Delhi airport for hours last year. Yudhveer told Newslaundry that the authorities told him that there was a “look out notice against him in connection with the farmers’ protest”.  But he was not given any written notice. 

Look out notices are issued against absconding criminals. 

Yudhveer claimed that he was not aware in which FIR he had been booked. “The police never came to inquire nor gave any notice.”

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Arjun Baliyan – bound to board a flight to Nepal to attend a farmers' conference – was also stopped at the Delhi airport on December 7, 2022. The immigration officials reportedly stopped him saying he was booked in connection with the protests, Baliyan claimed. Baliyan said he was booked in an FIR lodged at Delhi’s Kalyanpur police station.

In December 2022, the then Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said in a written response to a question that the Union Home Ministry had agreed to withdraw 86 cases filed against farmers across several states during the 2021 protests. The minister, however, had not provided state-wise details of these cases. Meanwhile, as per a Hindustan Times report, farm union leaders had claimed that more than 8,000 cases were lodged against farmers during the agitation.

Newslaundry reached out to Delhi police PRO Suman Nalwa over queries related to the matter. This report will be updated if a response is received.

Read the full report on Newslaundry Hindi.   

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