What was inevitable has happed. Just a day after a Dalit man's body with a hand chopped off was found at the farmers' protest site at the Singhu border in Haryana, a plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an urgent hearing of a pending petition.
The plea has sought removal of protestors from the protesting sites falling on highways linking Haryana, UP and Delhi.
The body of Lakhbir Singh, 35, from Punjab's Taran Taran district, was found tied to an overturned police barricade at the site where some farmers are protesting against three Central farm laws for over 10 months.
Lakhbir’s body carried 10 wounds caused by traditional sharp-edged weapons. The crime was allegedly committed by a group of Nihangs, a sect among Sikhs in Punjab.
"The right to freedom of speech and expression cannot supersede the right to life and if this protest is allowed to go in like this, the nation at large will be at a loss”, states the plea.The petitioners were Swati Goel and Sanjeev
Besides seeking the removal of protesting farmers, the plea has also sought the issuance of guidelines by the Centre to the states and Union Territories to stop all kinds of protests and not permit them until the pandemic gets over.
"A protest which in itself is illegal cannot be continued when it is witnessing anti-humanitarian acts," the PIL said. It adds that the protests have seen many unforeseen and unacceptable things including the tractor rally on Republic Day, rape of a woman and its cover-up at the site and murder of Lakhbir Singh on Dusshera.
The plea said at a time when there is a ban on celebrating festivals, visiting temples, going to school and colleges, allowing such protests will serve no good.
"Protestors are not only putting their life at risk but of millions of people of India and such a prolonged agitation cannot be allowed especially during ongoing pandemic since prolonged protests on public places are not only a clear violation of Supreme Court rulings but is violating Right of Life of others who are directly or indirectly affected by the said protests," it said.
Notably, the apex court is also hearing a separate plea filed by a NOIDA resident Monicca Agrawaal.
She has sought the removal of blockades saying earlier it took 20 minutes to reach Delhi and now it is taking over two hours and that people of the area are facing hardships due to the protests at the UP Gate on the Delhi border.
On October 4, the top court sought responses from 43 farmers' bodies and their leaders, including Rakesh Tikait, Darshan Pal and Gurnam Singh, leading protests at Delhi borders, on a plea of the Haryana government alleging they have not been participating in talks with its panel to resolve the impasses over road blockade here.
Haryana has moved an application seeking to make 43 bodies and individual leaders of various farmers' organisations in the PIL filed by Agrawaal.
The farmers are protesting for the last 10 months against the passage of three laws -- 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.
Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread mainly to Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.