Skip to main content

Global NGO objects to 'fortification' of Delhi with barbed wires, spikes, concrete trenches

Counterview Desk

The Indian government must uphold the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression as well as to assemble peacefully. The continuous crackdown against the farmers aimed at suppressing dissent through various means is unconstitutional, the Bangkok-based Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has said.
In a statement, FORUM-ASIA, which has a regional network of 81 member organisations across 21 Asian countries, with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, has taken strong exception to the authorities have fortifying the borders of Delhi using barbed wires, spikes and concrete trenches to block the entry of protestors into the capital city.

Text:

On January 26, 2021, protestors called for a tractor march to New Delhi, protesting against the new farm laws enacted by the Indian government in September 2020 and demanded the repeal of the laws, which are pro-corporate and against agrarian interests. The peaceful march turned violent as the police started using tear gas and batons to dispel the protestors, leaving a farmer dead and at least hundreds injured.
Immediately, the authorities declared orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code -- which prohibits assembly of more than five persons -- on the borders of New Delhi. Hundreds of protestors have been arrested and cases have been filed against farmer leaders of the protest.
‘The Indian authorities should end the use of excessive force against peaceful protests and ensure the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Recent democratic protests in India including the anti-citizenship law movement have been responded to with police brutality, which is against international human rights law and standards,’ said FORUM-ASIA’s Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu.
The authorities have now ‘fortified’ the borders of Delhi using barbed wires, spikes and concrete trenches to block the entry of protestors into the capital city. The government claimed that the farmers’ protest has been infiltrated by ‘Khalistani’ separatist groups, seen as an attempt to malign and discredit the protestors.
To further curtail the protests, at the request of the Indian Home Ministry, Twitter temporarily withheld accounts of a news magazine, protest leaders and organisations including Kisan Ekta Morcha, a farmers’ collective that were providing updates on the protests.The accounts were unblocked on the same day, prompting the Ministry to issue a notice to Twitter, threatening penal action for unblocking these accounts.
Internet services were also shut down in the protest areas since 26 January, denying peoples’ right to seek, receive and impart information. At least eight journalists who were covering the farmers’ protest in New Delhi are facing criminal charges, including sedition, while the media has been arbitrarily and illegally denied entry into the protest site.
‘As about half of India’s 1.3 billion people still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, the Indian government, instead of vilifying and discrediting the protesting farmers, should engage in conversation with them to ensure that their legitimate demands are fulfilled. Dissent, an essential characteristic of a constitutional democracy, should be encouraged and not criminalised,’ said Shamini.
FORUM-ASIA urges the Indian authorities to end the crackdown on protesting farmers and calls upon the authorities to ensure their fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Background of the protest

Since November 2020, several farmers’ organisations, movements, and trade unions have been protesting against the new farm laws enacted by the Indian government in September 2020 and demanding the repeal of the laws, which are pro-corporate and against agrarian interests. 
In December 2020, as protests intensified, Delhi Police prevented protesters from entering Delhi, forcing farmers to start a sit-in protest at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur which are the border areas between New Delhi and its neighbouring states.
The three contentious laws that the farmers are protesting against are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020. The opposition political parties have accused the government of passing these crucial bills in the Parliament in a hurried manner without adequate discussion, and denying their request for sending the bills to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
The apprehensions of farmers are that the new amendments would lead to the abolition of minimum support price (MSP), which guarantees a minimum selling price for the crops. The amendments also replace traditional ‘mandis’ (local markets) where farmers sell their crops directly to dealers, instead allowing corporations to buy from the farmers. The farmers claim that this would allow private players including big corporations to hoard essential commodities, which was illegal before the passing of these new laws.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”