Farmers blocking essential services, increasing Covid-19 threat, says petition before SC

A public interest petition before the Supreme Court on Friday has sought the immediate removal or dispersal of farmers gathered at Delhi borders in order to ease
By Abraham Thomas, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON DEC 04, 2020 10:37 PM IST
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A public interest petition before the Supreme Court on Friday has sought the immediate removal or dispersal of farmers gathered at Delhi borders in order to ease the movement of traffic and prevent a possible spread of Covid-19 among protesters, as the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s new farm laws entered its ninth day on Friday.

The petition, filed by law student Rishabh Sharma, also cited the October 7 judgment of the Supreme Court, on the months-long protest at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the amended citizenship rules, in which the apex court had said that while the right to protest and dissent against governments is a fundamental right, it is not an absolute one and public places cannot be occupied indefinitely to stage protests. The court had also held that such protests ought to take place in designated areas and not on public roads.

Sharma pointed out that despite farmers being allotted the Nirankari grounds in central Delhi’s Burari to peacefully protest, lakhs of farmers were still gathered at the borders of the capital city, blocking traffic along arterial roads connecting the city with the National Capital Region.

“This protest is causing lot of trouble to the citizens of India,” the petition stated and demanded the opening of the borders and a direction to protesters to move to the designated place.

Sharma also said such massive gatherings have the potential to become Covid-19 hot spots besides blocking essential medical and emergency services.

“The protest is blocking the roads for all the emergency/medical services which are very much required to be supplied within the territory of Delhi in order to stop the spread of coronavirus as the cases of coronavirus are increasing rapidly in Delhi,” stated the petition filed through advocate Om Prakash Parihar.

The petition also expressed concern over the health of elderly farmers protesting at the border points. “The coronavirus is affecting mainly elderly people and the protest at Delhi border is mostly consisting of elderly men and women. The petitioner is seeking urgent direction to shift them (protesting farmers) to the place already allotted by the Delhi police in view of immediate threat of coronavirus infection and spread.”

Security personnel continued to remain deployed at Singhu, Tikri, Chilla and Ghazipur border points. Several routes in and around the capital are closed on Friday and vehicles are re-routed wherever possible.

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