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

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”