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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 5, New Delhi, January 16, 2021

Against Violation of Human Rights of Farmers | Arup Kumar Sen

Friday 15 January 2021, by Arup Kumar Sen

India is witnessing a unique farmers’ movement with thousands of farmers camping on the highways outside Delhi borders for weeks and spending cold nights for claiming their rights. The farmers are sustaining themselves with community/family support.

The ongoing farmers’ movement has witnessed gross human rights violations in different forms. Given the fact that the ‘biased media’ did not cover the “real picture of farmers’ affliction, distress and agony”, the students of Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Panjab University, Chandigarh, recently addressed the Chief Justice of India in an Open Letter (December 2, 2020). The letter raised fundamental questions regarding the attitude of the ruling State Power towards the movement and gross violation of human rights of farmers.

In criticizing the attitude of the government, the letter stated: “…the Government of India is turning deaf and indifferent in toto to the farmers plight. We believe the course of action taken by the Government of India is insensitive to understand farmers’ sentiments”. The coercive methods adopted by the government in dealing with the protesting farmers were also highlighted: “…when farmers decided to approach to the National Capital Delhi, the peaceful protestors (farmers) were thrashed…”. It was further mentioned that “acting on advisory of Central Government” the Delhi Police planned to ‘Jail’ them, “the permission for which was though not granted by ruling Delhi Government”.

The Prayer by the students of Centre for Human Rights to the Chief Justice of India suggested, among others, that the Court may:

Direct an inquiry of the Haryana Police, regarding illegitimate use of water cannons, tear gases shells and lathis on peaceful protesting farmers; Direct Haryana Police, Delhi Police to withdraw all the cases against innocent farmers which were registered under political vendetta; Order to look into the cases of illegal detention of protestors; Take an action to curb fake news and against media channels, engaged in misrepresentation, polarisation and sensationalization of the whole issue.

The students of human rights, in their communication to the Supreme Court, observed:

“…even after facing much horridness and macabre mental, physical, spiritual and emotional breakdown, the farmers are still maintaining the peace, amity, quiet and serenity of the protest, respecting law and order, which is very much tough to maintain if one can see the festers farmers are surviving!”

The questions raised and demands placed by the students of Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Panjab University, remind us of the paradigm of governance theorized by Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, in which “all legislative activity lay firmly in the hands of the executive”. This paradigm of governance goes against the basic spirit of the Indian Constitution.

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