Everybody of us is watching news channels since last one month or so and wondering about the ‘Gherao’ of New Delhi, by demonstrating farmers. Roads to Delhi are blocked at some places completely and at some places partially; even though the Epidemic Act is in force since long, besides the legal provisions are available with the Law-and-Order machinery.
In spite of the risk of infection of Covid-19, almost all farmers seen in mobs are without masks and sitting close to each other, without any fear of infection. And most surprising is the Chief Minister of New Delhi was seen sitting in close proximity, with pride.
I am amazed who is that advisor, who is advising those demonstrating farmers to become so obstinate and obdurate and do not negotiate, in letter and spirit. Such attitude never wins, but on the contrary leads to miserable failure.
I wonder why the Government, in spite of being competent, not initiating any action to remove the demonstrators from the borders of a New Delhi. Are those demonstrators not causing any risk and threat to public health, including to the demonstrators themselves? How is it possible that the deadly Covid-19 virus must have not already infected those farmers, many of them being in the vulnerable age group of above 60? Or I fear that though infected they are still there in the mod? How those demonstrating farmers are ensuring uninterrupted income to support their families?
I, the past, had travelled through Punjab for 3-4 times, by road and railway. I saw how fertile and irrigated the land is. I did not find such fertile and irrigated land in North or South. The farmers in general, in Punjab, are richer than the farmers in other states. There may be some exceptions. I saw some very expensive vehicles parked at demonstration sites at Delhi borders and farmers were cosily siting on the bonnet of the vehicle. How come? The news channels shown all comfort is being ensured, which is normally seen in the weddings of rich families. Food, I can understand, is provided by Gurudwaras’ ‘Langar’, but what about other luxuries and mouth-watering dishes? Solar panels? Roti making machines and so on?
Now, coming to demands of those farmers. Indian Constitution is Supreme, which has empowered the parliament to make laws, by following the procedure laid down. All three Agricultural Acts passed by following due procedure. If anybody is aggrieved by the any provision in those Acts passed by parliament, he has legal remedy to challenge it the constitutional court, Hon. Supreme Court; which, I understand, has already been done and the matter is sub judice. Then, how those farmers’ unions can block roads for days together, and thereby cause nuisance and inconvenience, even though Indian Penal Code classified such act as an offence of which cognizance can be and has to be taken off by concerned authorities.
The most disturbing and dangerous is the demand to repeal, withdraw and take back those three Acts. Tomorrow, anybody will stand up and demand to take back Acts passed by Parliament or State legislatures, which is against the democratic principles and constitutional mandate. It is pertinent to mention here that even when the matter of ‘Shahin Bag Demonstration’ was heard by Hon. Supreme Court, it had chosen not to pronounce definitively anything. In legal language ‘Neither any Ratio Decidendi, Not any Obiter Dicta’. And hence, the grey area has remained as it is. What was said by Hon. Supreme Court is just passing remarks. However, eve otherwise, individual’s Fundamental Right of speech and expression (including right of demonstration) is always subject to reasonable restrictions, in the interest of public and state policy. People are wrongly interpreting and misusing the concept of ‘Satyagraha’. It was being used as a very effective tool by Mahatma Gandhi, against the British rule and that too in the national interest.
These demonstrating farmers are pressurising government to withdraw the legitimately promogulated Agricultural Acts, which is deplorable and must be condemned by one and all.
Why I am saying this is because, they are taking recourse to illegal ways and methods and challenging constitutionally and democratically elected government. It is causing a threat to our democracy. I think, as a responsible citizen of free India, everybody should become agile and awake and express his views. Why ordinary citizen like me should go in deep slumber and remain silent; as if those demonstrations happening in New Delhi is thousands of kilometres away from us and not related to us? India is our nation too and we have every right to express our views and opinions.
Our ancestors have done many things to the best of their abilities for freedom of our country, for all of us. Many freedom fighters went to jails, many revolutionaries went to gallows and sacrificed their precious lives. Many spent their youthful years behind the bars. Should we not at least become awaken citizen and ensure that the independence handed over to us by them should be protected, preserved and maintained, as dreamt by those patriotic souls for Free India, like Veer Vinayak Damodar Swarkar, Shahid Bhagat Singh and so on? Not to speak can be interpreted as acceptance of what is going on. I always think that we must use our precious right and privilege granted to us by our constitution and express whatever way we think and feel, else how others will know in what way we are thinking about a particular subject?
Many people create and spread their own ‘Narratives’ to influence others. All of them are not for good or with good intentions. Of course, some are. Then, why right-thinking people like you and me, should not narrate our thoughts freely and without any fear. We do not want to create narratives for any ulterior motive, but to insulate our society and nation from those, who want to destabilise the country for their selfish motives. Government will do its job and we will do our job. Those countries will only survive in which the citizens are alert, agile and awake and express themselves fearlessly. Gurudeo Rabindranath Tagore had seen that dream for us, in his famous poem in, ‘Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo’ in his Nobel Prize winning anthology of Poems, ‘Gitanjali’.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments,
By narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way,
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee,
Into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.