A controversy was stirred in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh after police allegedly issued notices to petrol pumps asking them to not sell fuel to tractor owners to prevent them from participating in the proposed tractor march as part of the ongoing farm protest on Republic Day. While such notices issued to petrol pumps were shared widely on social media, legal notices sent to tractor owners asking them to not run their vehicles on the road till January 26 or face action also emerged.
After receiving criticism on social media, Ghazipur police issued a clarification on Sunday saying that no such order or direction was issued in the district. However, referring to a specific police station, Ghazipur police said that a notice had been issued “by mistake” from the Suhwal thana (station) but the order was immediately withdrawn. Additional Superintendent of Police-Rural (ASP) Ghazipur was asked to investigate the matter and submit a report regarding the “negligence”, said Ghazipur police in a statement issued on Twitter.
As per one such contentious notice issued by Station House Officer (SHO) Suhwal, police said plying of tractors was prohibited in view of the high-alert in the State for Republic Day and restrictions imposed under Section 144 of CrPC. Noting that there were possibilities of farmers leading tractor marches at two places under the police station, the SHO’s notice directed a petrol pump owner to not supply fuel to any tractor, or sell it in drums or cans from January 22 to January 26. This was necessary for maintaining peace and order, the notice said, adding that the petrol pump owner would be “accountable” for disregarding the order.
In another notice issued under Section 149 CrPC in the Saidpur police station area, police asked a tractor owner Vir Bahadur Yadav to not run his tractor on the road till January 26 and threatened to take action if he didn’t comply with the directive. The notice cited Republic Day, peace and security, flag march and commuting of school children on the road as reasons for the notice.
“As part of the Sadak Suraksha Saptah (Road Safety Week), during checking if the tractor is found plying on the road, legal action will be taken against the vehicle and the vehicle owner,” the notice under CrPC 149 said.
When contacted SHO Saidpur said legal notices had been issued to people under CrPC 149 directing them to not do “anything illegal” on the road as part of Road Safety Week. “There is no notice issued to them barring them from working or any other activity,” he said.
When asked if this meant tractors could ply freely on January 26, the SHO said what is legal will be allowed. If by illegal he meant the proposed tractor march as part of the farm protest, the SHO said, “I cannot tell you more about this. You can contact the higher officials.”
ASP (Rural) was not reachable for comment.
Samajwadi Party workers alleged that such notices had been issued across the district and shared pictures, one of which allegedly showed a notice put up at a petrol pump in Saidpur stating that “Fuel will not be given to tractors or in bottles”.