Farmers’ protest: Forward of SC listening to, petitioner highlights Delhi commuters’ plight

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 9

Ahead of Monday hearing on petitions seeking removal of agitating farmers who have blocked several entry points to Delhi since November 26, a petitioner has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court highlighting the plight of commuters entering the national capital.

Petitioner Rishabh Sharma cited the top court’s verdict on Shaheen Bagh protests to emphasise that public places can’t be blocked and occupied indefinitely. The protesters were violating the court’s verdict, he submitted.

Sharma pointed out that the agitating farmers have blocked Noida Chilla Border, Tikri Border, Singhu Border, Gazipur Border, Delhi-Rohtak National Highway, causing hardships to those entering Delhi from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

He contended that “the continuous blockage of public roads by the farmers union at various places is only causing undue hardship to the common citizens of this country which is again violating their constitutional rights of free movements…causing unnecessary hardships to the common citizen due to huge traffic jams…”

The affidavit stated that “if such kind of blockage in public roads is allowed to be continued it will only deny few of the citizens from earning their livelihood since their free movement is either curtailed or obstructed due to the blockage of public roads.”

Sharma alleged that the farmers’ union destroyed mobile towers in Punjab and threatened to take out a tractor rally on the Republic Day.

Noting that there was no improvement in talks between agitating farmers and the government, the top court had on Wednesday said it would take up petitions against farm laws and those against farmers’ protests on January 11.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde – which is scheduled to take up petitions against farm laws and those seeking removal of farmers from Delhi roads on Monday—had on January 7 expressed concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 among the agitators and asked the Centre if they were taking precautionary measures against the pandemic.

“We are trying to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread. Ensure guidelines issued are followed,” the CJI had said.

The CJI — who had on December 17 indicated constituting a committee of independent and impartial persons, including agriculture experts, to end the stalemate between protesting farmers and the Centre – had said, “We understand the situation. We want to encourage the talks. We will keep the matter on Monday and will adjourn if you say so.”

There are several petitions on the issue, including that of Sharma who contended that “since the virus is spreading rapidly and the cases of COVID19 are increasing day-by-day in Delhi, it is paramount that this protest be stopped on immediate basis.”

He demanded that Delhi borders should be opened and protesters should be shifted to a designated place where they should follow norms, including physical distancing, to check the spread of COVID19 pandemic.

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