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UP Governor gives assent to anti-Love Jihad ordinance

The draft ordinance approved by the UP Cabinet on November 24, makes unlawful conversions a non-bailable offence

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:opindia.com

The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Anandiben Patel has promulgated the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 (Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Viruddh Dharm Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadesh 2020) on November 28.

This comes four days after the Yogi Adityanath cabinet approved a draft of the ordinance curbing religious conversions only for the sake of marriage. This new proposed law provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine of up to Rs 50,000 under different categories.

The preamble to the Act reads, “To provide for prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The important provisions in the draft bill are as follows:

1) Section 3 prevents any person to convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage.

2) Section 5 penalises any kind of conversion by way of allurement, gift, gratification, easy money, material benefit, employment, free education in reputed school or better lifestyle, divine displeasure or due to coercion or fraudulent means.

3) Section 6 lays down that when marriage is done for the sole purpose of an unlawful conversion or when an unlawful conversion is done for the sole purpose of marriage, such a marriage could be declared null and void (on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage). The proviso to this Section states that all the provisions of sections 8 and 9 shall apply to such marriages.

4) Section 7 makes unlawful religious conversion a non-bailable and cognisable offence.

5) Section 8 provides for a procedure that needs to be followed by people who are voluntarily converting their religion. He/she shall give a declaration in the form prescribed in Schedule I at least 60 days in advance, to the District Magistrate.

Failure to do so will invite imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine. The DM will have to satisfy himself/herself that the Conversion is made voluntarily, if the permission is granted, then the concerned Priest, Pujari, Maulvi/Mulla, Padari shall inform the DM regarding the place and time of as to when he is going to convert a particular person.

6) Section 9 provides for the procedure to be followed once converted. the person is required to send a declaration in the form prescribed in the Ordinance to the District Magistrate. He/She has to state that he belonged to a particular religion and now he/she has converted to another religion. Failure to do so shall have the effect of rendering the said conversion illegal and void.

7) Section 10 prevents the State Government from providing any financial aid or grant to such institution or organization violating the provisions of this Act.

8) Section 11 categorises the parties to offences and holds people who abet/aid forceful conversion liable.

9) Section 12 puts the burden of proof as to whether a religious conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage lies on the person who has caused the conversion and, where such conversion has been facilitated by any person, on such other person.

In recent weeks, many states apart from Uttar Pradesh, like Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindutva activists refer to as 'love jihad'.

The ordinance may be read here: 

Related:

UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’
Right to choose a partner is intrinsic to Right to life & personal liberty: Allahabad HC

UP Governor gives assent to anti-Love Jihad ordinance

The draft ordinance approved by the UP Cabinet on November 24, makes unlawful conversions a non-bailable offence

Image Courtesy:opindia.com

The Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Anandiben Patel has promulgated the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 (Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Viruddh Dharm Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadesh 2020) on November 28.

This comes four days after the Yogi Adityanath cabinet approved a draft of the ordinance curbing religious conversions only for the sake of marriage. This new proposed law provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine of up to Rs 50,000 under different categories.

The preamble to the Act reads, “To provide for prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The important provisions in the draft bill are as follows:

1) Section 3 prevents any person to convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage.

2) Section 5 penalises any kind of conversion by way of allurement, gift, gratification, easy money, material benefit, employment, free education in reputed school or better lifestyle, divine displeasure or due to coercion or fraudulent means.

3) Section 6 lays down that when marriage is done for the sole purpose of an unlawful conversion or when an unlawful conversion is done for the sole purpose of marriage, such a marriage could be declared null and void (on a petition presented by either party thereto against the other party of the marriage). The proviso to this Section states that all the provisions of sections 8 and 9 shall apply to such marriages.

4) Section 7 makes unlawful religious conversion a non-bailable and cognisable offence.

5) Section 8 provides for a procedure that needs to be followed by people who are voluntarily converting their religion. He/she shall give a declaration in the form prescribed in Schedule I at least 60 days in advance, to the District Magistrate.

Failure to do so will invite imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, but may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine. The DM will have to satisfy himself/herself that the Conversion is made voluntarily, if the permission is granted, then the concerned Priest, Pujari, Maulvi/Mulla, Padari shall inform the DM regarding the place and time of as to when he is going to convert a particular person.

6) Section 9 provides for the procedure to be followed once converted. the person is required to send a declaration in the form prescribed in the Ordinance to the District Magistrate. He/She has to state that he belonged to a particular religion and now he/she has converted to another religion. Failure to do so shall have the effect of rendering the said conversion illegal and void.

7) Section 10 prevents the State Government from providing any financial aid or grant to such institution or organization violating the provisions of this Act.

8) Section 11 categorises the parties to offences and holds people who abet/aid forceful conversion liable.

9) Section 12 puts the burden of proof as to whether a religious conversion was not affected through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage lies on the person who has caused the conversion and, where such conversion has been facilitated by any person, on such other person.

In recent weeks, many states apart from Uttar Pradesh, like Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindutva activists refer to as 'love jihad'.

The ordinance may be read here: 

Related:

UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’
Right to choose a partner is intrinsic to Right to life & personal liberty: Allahabad HC

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Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers

AIKSCC General Secretary Hannan Mollah asserts that farmers shall maintain a united front while continuing their demands for the withdrawal of the three 'anti-farmer' laws.

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:livemint.com

The allowance for holding protests at the Nirankari grounds in Burari is a moral victory for farmers, said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) General Secretary Hannan Mollah on November 28, 2020. The farmer leader told SabrangIndia that the central government’s initial opposition to the farmers’ march was just a panic reaction.

“They do not have the courage to sit and talk with us so they resorted to tear gas and water cannons. They even dug up national highways which had never been done before. They thought we would give in. We did not. So now, the government has relented and given us space for protests,” he said.

On November 27, the Union Home Ministry’s decided to allow free passage of farmers into Delhi to voice their grievances regarding the three agriculture laws forcibly passed by the BJP-led government. Farmers celebrated the Government of India’s surrender to the will of farmers.

Avik Saha, General Secretary of Swaraj India, tweeted the news while expressing concern about the holding capacity of Nirankari grounds in the comment section.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said, “After holding discussion with farmer leaders, the protesting farmers have been permitted inside Delhi to hold peaceful protests at Nirankari Ground in Burari. We appeal to all farmers to maintain peace.”

Accordingly, ground reports showed that protesters wasted no time in occupying and barricading the sanctioned area to continue their earnest demand for the withdrawal of the three anti-farmer-dubbed central Acts.

 

However, while the defeat of the central government is an important achievement for the movement, Mollah said the coalition still did not trust the government.

“Following their initial defeat, it is likely they will resort to a divide and rule policy to break up farmers’ unity,” he said.

An example of such a strategy could be the Agriculture Ministers’ invitation to Punjab farmers for a discussion on December 3 that was castigated by the AIKSCC.

The Union Home Ministry finalised Nirankari Grounds in Burari for farmers’ protest following talks between Delhi police and Punjab farmers. The latter has many farmers’ Unions with differing views about agricultural topics. Many of these organisation members are yet to arrive in Delhi.

Once they assemble, the AIKSCC members intend to talk to Punjab farmers’ leaders to form a single united front for the foremost demand to repeal the three agriculture Acts that farmers consider to be pro-corporate, pro-MNC farm laws.

Nonetheless, the coalition views the ground allowance and free passage of farmers into Delhi as a definite win.

Once the ground is given, the government essentially recognises the farmers’ protest which compels the government to provide protesters with basic amenities to continue our agitation, said Mollah.

Nirankari ground can hold around 20 lakh people along with trucks. Currently, there are about 2 lakh protesting farmers in the city with tractors and trucks. More people are coming in from Haryana.

“We have been told that trucks forming a line of 70 kms are travelling towards Delhi from Haryana. Farmers plan to live in the trucks until the end of the protest. The vehicles are loaded with chulha, gas in preparation of a 15-days sit-in in Delhi,” said Mollah.

Meanwhile, batches of around 50 farmers have already mobilised from Sonipat, Panipat districts of Haryana to join protesters at the city border, Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (Tikait) President Ratan Mann told SabrangIndia. The farmers’ leader was released from detainment on Friday night and has also left for the border.

Similarly, massive numbers are moving along from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other states towards Delhi. The AIKSCC said it shall help with the accommodation of incoming farmers.

Along with the three Acts, farmers also oppose the Electricity Bill 2020. They have further criticised the central government during the course of the protest march for putting obstacles in the path of democratic assertion by India’s farmers.

Related:

Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

Nirankari ground, a moral victory for India’s protesting farmers

AIKSCC General Secretary Hannan Mollah asserts that farmers shall maintain a united front while continuing their demands for the withdrawal of the three 'anti-farmer' laws.

Image Courtesy:livemint.com

The allowance for holding protests at the Nirankari grounds in Burari is a moral victory for farmers, said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) General Secretary Hannan Mollah on November 28, 2020. The farmer leader told SabrangIndia that the central government’s initial opposition to the farmers’ march was just a panic reaction.

“They do not have the courage to sit and talk with us so they resorted to tear gas and water cannons. They even dug up national highways which had never been done before. They thought we would give in. We did not. So now, the government has relented and given us space for protests,” he said.

On November 27, the Union Home Ministry’s decided to allow free passage of farmers into Delhi to voice their grievances regarding the three agriculture laws forcibly passed by the BJP-led government. Farmers celebrated the Government of India’s surrender to the will of farmers.

Avik Saha, General Secretary of Swaraj India, tweeted the news while expressing concern about the holding capacity of Nirankari grounds in the comment section.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said, “After holding discussion with farmer leaders, the protesting farmers have been permitted inside Delhi to hold peaceful protests at Nirankari Ground in Burari. We appeal to all farmers to maintain peace.”

Accordingly, ground reports showed that protesters wasted no time in occupying and barricading the sanctioned area to continue their earnest demand for the withdrawal of the three anti-farmer-dubbed central Acts.

 

However, while the defeat of the central government is an important achievement for the movement, Mollah said the coalition still did not trust the government.

“Following their initial defeat, it is likely they will resort to a divide and rule policy to break up farmers’ unity,” he said.

An example of such a strategy could be the Agriculture Ministers’ invitation to Punjab farmers for a discussion on December 3 that was castigated by the AIKSCC.

The Union Home Ministry finalised Nirankari Grounds in Burari for farmers’ protest following talks between Delhi police and Punjab farmers. The latter has many farmers’ Unions with differing views about agricultural topics. Many of these organisation members are yet to arrive in Delhi.

Once they assemble, the AIKSCC members intend to talk to Punjab farmers’ leaders to form a single united front for the foremost demand to repeal the three agriculture Acts that farmers consider to be pro-corporate, pro-MNC farm laws.

Nonetheless, the coalition views the ground allowance and free passage of farmers into Delhi as a definite win.

Once the ground is given, the government essentially recognises the farmers’ protest which compels the government to provide protesters with basic amenities to continue our agitation, said Mollah.

Nirankari ground can hold around 20 lakh people along with trucks. Currently, there are about 2 lakh protesting farmers in the city with tractors and trucks. More people are coming in from Haryana.

“We have been told that trucks forming a line of 70 kms are travelling towards Delhi from Haryana. Farmers plan to live in the trucks until the end of the protest. The vehicles are loaded with chulha, gas in preparation of a 15-days sit-in in Delhi,” said Mollah.

Meanwhile, batches of around 50 farmers have already mobilised from Sonipat, Panipat districts of Haryana to join protesters at the city border, Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (Tikait) President Ratan Mann told SabrangIndia. The farmers’ leader was released from detainment on Friday night and has also left for the border.

Similarly, massive numbers are moving along from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other states towards Delhi. The AIKSCC said it shall help with the accommodation of incoming farmers.

Along with the three Acts, farmers also oppose the Electricity Bill 2020. They have further criticised the central government during the course of the protest march for putting obstacles in the path of democratic assertion by India’s farmers.

Related:

Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?
Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

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Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?

The protesting farmers will now be ‘contained’ in a massive open area, as the cold wave intensifies in Delhi.

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:indianexpress.com

While it is being seen as a ‘victory’ for the thousands of farmers once they were allowed to enter Delhi borders, the government has not done them any favours. The farmers are citizens of India and it is their right to travel to any state at any time. It is also their right to protest laws and actions they deem unjust. The government, it seems, has just taken a step back, perhaps to buy itself time to strategize, as it faces the courage and resilience, and above all the unity of the farmers from across the country.  

On Friday, the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked them to put off their agitation and promised ‘talks’ on December 3. He also wants them to quit the agitation in “view of Covid-19 and the winters”. Tomar said, “The government has always been ready to discuss issues with farmers… We have invited farmers’ organisations for another round of talks on December 3. I appeal to them to leave agitation in view of Covid-19 and the winters.”

The farmers unions have maintained that they, the major stakeholder were not consulted before the Parliament  passed the The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 -- in its monsoon session. Farmers’ organisations are demanding that the laws be repealed, and replaced with a new Act that ensures a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agriculture produce in the country.

The protesting farmers are now being made to camp in a massive open area, even as the cold wave conditions continue to intensify in Delhi. They have to wait here for the next six days, unless the minister has a change of heart and calls them for a meeting earlier. The state government has stated they will be supplied drinking water.

Some of the local leaders have planned to supply food as well.

Though it is not known if arrangements have been made for providing shelter against the bitter cold to the farmers. Like the anti CAA-NRC-NPR protests that began in Shaheen Bagh, on the other end of the city in December 2019, the farmers too may be helped by citizen volunteers, gurudwara and mosque volunteers who have been already sharing food and water in solidarity with the protesting farmers, as they did before. "Won't go back until our demands are met," farmers who entered Delhi through the Tikri border told NDTV. 

“This is a revolution,” said a young farmer engaging in a passionate discussion with a police officer. 

 

 

The farmers have reached here after nearly two days of facing the onslaught of tear gas, water cannons, razor wire, and concrete barricades, and even trenches on the highways that the police and paramilitary forces were ordered to combat the march with. It was only after hours of clashes with the protesting farmers at the border areas of Delhi-Haryana-Uttar Pradesh that the police finally allowed the farmers to enter the National Capital from the Singhu border which connects Haryana and Delhi. However, according to news reports even the situation at the border remained chaotic and the police had used tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the farmers. 

Meanwhile the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government’s refusal to allow ‘temporary jails’ being set up in stadiums will earn them support and goodwill from the farming community. Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders had urged the Delhi Chief Minister to welcome the farmers into NCR and reject the demand of Delhi Police to use stadiums as jails. Once that was done they claimed it as a AAP victory, and that the party was with the farmers.

 

Kejriwal had called the three farming bills that they are protesting, “anti-farmer” and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led central government “instead of withdrawing this bill”, assaulted the farmers with water cannons.

 

While the Delhi government formally denied the permission sought by Delhi Police to convert nine stadiums into temporary prisons, more metro stations were closed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). This will slow down those wanting to reach Burari from across the city, to join the farmers in solidarity. 

Only after battling teargas shells and water cannons for hours on Friday at the Delhi-Haryana border in Sonipat and Jhajjar, thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana were allowed in the evening to enter through the Tikri border and hold their protest at Burari in north-west Delhi.  But by then the farmers had faced teargas shells and water cannons for hours on Friday at the Delhi-Haryana border in Sonipat and Jhajjar. 

At the Singhu border, which falls on the Grand Trunk road, where thousands of tracker trolleys are stranded with farmers, police did not allow entry till late in the evening. Haryana police officials told the media that there were many farmers in cars, buses and tracker trolleys headed towards Delhi from different highways in the state. 

According to ground reports from the Singhu border, on the Grand Trunk road, thousands of farmers with their tracker trolleys were stranded as the Police did not allow them entry till late in the evening. Haryana police officials said there were many farmers in cars, buses and tracker trolleys headed towards Delhi from different highways in the state, stated news reports. 

Farmer bodies in at least 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh held protests on Friday, stated news reports adding that they too will march towards Delhi from Saturday. Dharmendra Malik, state spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the union decided that farmers would start marching towards Delhi in their tractor trolleys.

“Five lakh farmers had staged a protest in Delhi for seven days in 1988 under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Tikait, compelling the then Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre to accept their demands. Farmers would force the Modi government to withdraw the bills,” he told the media.

It is not only in Delhi that the farmers are protesting. According to a news report in The Hindustan Times, more protests were observed on Friday in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well. More farmers may congregate at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh interstate border on Saturday as from UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, to join the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting in Delhi. A large number of farmers from Madhya Pradesh, who were trying to join the protest of farmers from Punjab and Haryana in Delhi, staged a protest near Agra at national highway-3 on Friday as UP police didn’t allow them to go further towards the Capital, stated the report.

According to Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sangh general secretary Akhilesh Singh, “Farmers from MP had been trying to reach Delhi to join the peaceful protest since Wednesday night but UP police were stopping them. On Friday morning, they sat on a dharna near Agra on national highway-3 and halted traffic for more than five hours.” Later in the evening, they were allowed to proceed towards the Capital on the Delhi-Mathura-Agra highway. The news report added that All India Kisan Sabha members from Rajasthan mobilised farmers from Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Sikar districts as well. 

Farmers from Uttarakhand, Uddham Singh Nagar, were stopped in UP’s Rampur, and started an indefinite sit-in at Rampur national highway and blocked traffic. Tajendra Singh Virk, president, Terai Kisan Sangathan, Uddham Singh Nagar, was quoted by the media: “UP police are not allowing us to head to Delhi on the pretext of the Covid-19 outbreak. We have decided that we will continue our sit-in and camp here till the police allow us to go to Delhi.” Protests were also held in Maharashtra’s Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Sangli and Wardha, stated news reports, adding that some may join the Delhi protests too.

Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting in Delhi got support from their counterparts in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, who will join the stir in the next few days, farmer leaders from these states said. Protests were observed on Friday in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well. There were protests in several places in Maharashtra such as Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Sangli and Wardha with farm leaders saying they would decide in a few days whether to join the stir in Delhi. 

All India Kisan Sabha members from Rajasthan mobilised farmers from Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Sikar districts to join the stir. “The farmers from Rajasthan will be joining the Delhi Chalo movement in the next few days. We have held solidarity protests in various parts of the state on Friday,” said Amra Ram, a former lawmaker and general secretary of the Kisan Sabha. Farmers from Uttarakhand, Uddham Singh Nagar, were stopped in UP’s Rampur from proceeding to Delhi. They started an indefinite sit-in at Rampur national highway. They were joined by local farmers from UP.

Related

Top 10 Moments of November 27, 2020
Top 10 moments of November 26, 2020
Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!
LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020
Right Wing media working overtime to discredit farmers?
We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

 

Agri Minister should meet farmers ASAP: Why wait till December 3?

The protesting farmers will now be ‘contained’ in a massive open area, as the cold wave intensifies in Delhi.

Image Courtesy:indianexpress.com

While it is being seen as a ‘victory’ for the thousands of farmers once they were allowed to enter Delhi borders, the government has not done them any favours. The farmers are citizens of India and it is their right to travel to any state at any time. It is also their right to protest laws and actions they deem unjust. The government, it seems, has just taken a step back, perhaps to buy itself time to strategize, as it faces the courage and resilience, and above all the unity of the farmers from across the country.  

On Friday, the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked them to put off their agitation and promised ‘talks’ on December 3. He also wants them to quit the agitation in “view of Covid-19 and the winters”. Tomar said, “The government has always been ready to discuss issues with farmers… We have invited farmers’ organisations for another round of talks on December 3. I appeal to them to leave agitation in view of Covid-19 and the winters.”

The farmers unions have maintained that they, the major stakeholder were not consulted before the Parliament  passed the The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 -- in its monsoon session. Farmers’ organisations are demanding that the laws be repealed, and replaced with a new Act that ensures a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agriculture produce in the country.

The protesting farmers are now being made to camp in a massive open area, even as the cold wave conditions continue to intensify in Delhi. They have to wait here for the next six days, unless the minister has a change of heart and calls them for a meeting earlier. The state government has stated they will be supplied drinking water.

Some of the local leaders have planned to supply food as well.

Though it is not known if arrangements have been made for providing shelter against the bitter cold to the farmers. Like the anti CAA-NRC-NPR protests that began in Shaheen Bagh, on the other end of the city in December 2019, the farmers too may be helped by citizen volunteers, gurudwara and mosque volunteers who have been already sharing food and water in solidarity with the protesting farmers, as they did before. "Won't go back until our demands are met," farmers who entered Delhi through the Tikri border told NDTV. 

“This is a revolution,” said a young farmer engaging in a passionate discussion with a police officer. 

 

 

The farmers have reached here after nearly two days of facing the onslaught of tear gas, water cannons, razor wire, and concrete barricades, and even trenches on the highways that the police and paramilitary forces were ordered to combat the march with. It was only after hours of clashes with the protesting farmers at the border areas of Delhi-Haryana-Uttar Pradesh that the police finally allowed the farmers to enter the National Capital from the Singhu border which connects Haryana and Delhi. However, according to news reports even the situation at the border remained chaotic and the police had used tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse the farmers. 

Meanwhile the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government’s refusal to allow ‘temporary jails’ being set up in stadiums will earn them support and goodwill from the farming community. Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders had urged the Delhi Chief Minister to welcome the farmers into NCR and reject the demand of Delhi Police to use stadiums as jails. Once that was done they claimed it as a AAP victory, and that the party was with the farmers.

 

Kejriwal had called the three farming bills that they are protesting, “anti-farmer” and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led central government “instead of withdrawing this bill”, assaulted the farmers with water cannons.

 

While the Delhi government formally denied the permission sought by Delhi Police to convert nine stadiums into temporary prisons, more metro stations were closed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). This will slow down those wanting to reach Burari from across the city, to join the farmers in solidarity. 

Only after battling teargas shells and water cannons for hours on Friday at the Delhi-Haryana border in Sonipat and Jhajjar, thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana were allowed in the evening to enter through the Tikri border and hold their protest at Burari in north-west Delhi.  But by then the farmers had faced teargas shells and water cannons for hours on Friday at the Delhi-Haryana border in Sonipat and Jhajjar. 

At the Singhu border, which falls on the Grand Trunk road, where thousands of tracker trolleys are stranded with farmers, police did not allow entry till late in the evening. Haryana police officials told the media that there were many farmers in cars, buses and tracker trolleys headed towards Delhi from different highways in the state. 

According to ground reports from the Singhu border, on the Grand Trunk road, thousands of farmers with their tracker trolleys were stranded as the Police did not allow them entry till late in the evening. Haryana police officials said there were many farmers in cars, buses and tracker trolleys headed towards Delhi from different highways in the state, stated news reports. 

Farmer bodies in at least 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh held protests on Friday, stated news reports adding that they too will march towards Delhi from Saturday. Dharmendra Malik, state spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the union decided that farmers would start marching towards Delhi in their tractor trolleys.

“Five lakh farmers had staged a protest in Delhi for seven days in 1988 under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Tikait, compelling the then Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre to accept their demands. Farmers would force the Modi government to withdraw the bills,” he told the media.

It is not only in Delhi that the farmers are protesting. According to a news report in The Hindustan Times, more protests were observed on Friday in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well. More farmers may congregate at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh interstate border on Saturday as from UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, to join the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting in Delhi. A large number of farmers from Madhya Pradesh, who were trying to join the protest of farmers from Punjab and Haryana in Delhi, staged a protest near Agra at national highway-3 on Friday as UP police didn’t allow them to go further towards the Capital, stated the report.

According to Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sangh general secretary Akhilesh Singh, “Farmers from MP had been trying to reach Delhi to join the peaceful protest since Wednesday night but UP police were stopping them. On Friday morning, they sat on a dharna near Agra on national highway-3 and halted traffic for more than five hours.” Later in the evening, they were allowed to proceed towards the Capital on the Delhi-Mathura-Agra highway. The news report added that All India Kisan Sabha members from Rajasthan mobilised farmers from Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Sikar districts as well. 

Farmers from Uttarakhand, Uddham Singh Nagar, were stopped in UP’s Rampur, and started an indefinite sit-in at Rampur national highway and blocked traffic. Tajendra Singh Virk, president, Terai Kisan Sangathan, Uddham Singh Nagar, was quoted by the media: “UP police are not allowing us to head to Delhi on the pretext of the Covid-19 outbreak. We have decided that we will continue our sit-in and camp here till the police allow us to go to Delhi.” Protests were also held in Maharashtra’s Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Sangli and Wardha, stated news reports, adding that some may join the Delhi protests too.

Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting in Delhi got support from their counterparts in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, who will join the stir in the next few days, farmer leaders from these states said. Protests were observed on Friday in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as well. There were protests in several places in Maharashtra such as Thane, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Sangli and Wardha with farm leaders saying they would decide in a few days whether to join the stir in Delhi. 

All India Kisan Sabha members from Rajasthan mobilised farmers from Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh and Sikar districts to join the stir. “The farmers from Rajasthan will be joining the Delhi Chalo movement in the next few days. We have held solidarity protests in various parts of the state on Friday,” said Amra Ram, a former lawmaker and general secretary of the Kisan Sabha. Farmers from Uttarakhand, Uddham Singh Nagar, were stopped in UP’s Rampur from proceeding to Delhi. They started an indefinite sit-in at Rampur national highway. They were joined by local farmers from UP.

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The Economist slams Modi regime again!

Cites examples of Arnab Goswami and Stan Swamy to highlight disparities in justice delivery

28 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

A November 28 briefing in The Economist, has once again voiced strong opinions against the Modi government. The piece titled Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state minces no words as it enumerates instances of how there is a marked difference between how people are treated in India based on their support for the ruling regime.

It begins by giving the example of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswamy, whose case was addressed by the judicial system with an unprecedented speed. “Mr Goswami spent just a week in detention, and his case had hardly reached the lowest rung of courts, yet the country’s topmost judges ignored the court’s backlog of some 60,000 cases to schedule a bail hearing within a day of the anchor’s appeal. This is in a country where prisons hold twice as many inmates awaiting trial, some 330,000 people, as they do convicts,” said The Economist.

It goes on to showcase how a majority of undertrials, especially from oppressed and marginalized groups or religious and ethnic minorities seldom get access to justice at the same speed. It also highlights how the courts have treated cases of dissenters and activists. The piece sites examples of Fr. Stan Swamy as well as the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed in Kashmir when several young men, some still teenagers, went missing during the shutdown in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.

The Economist then goes on to warn of impending authoritarianism in the country, given the systematic groundwork being prepared by the regime. “Many cogs in India’s institutional machinery are not merely complacent, but have grown complicit in a project that threatens to turn the country into a one-party state,” says the piece. It slams the police in particular for allowing itself to become a tool of oppression saying, “Of the ostensibly independent institutions that are now compliant, India’s police stand out. Despite individually humane and honest officers, the impression Indians hold of the force is that its main purpose is to protect the powerful and persecute the weak. A case in point is the Delhi police’s management of communal riots that racked parts of India’s capital for three days last winter, leaving 53 dead.”

It also cites examples of the regime's stranglehold over other institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), where the regime has instituted its ‘yes-men’ in positions of power. It even questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Economist also sites examples of non-BJP run states in India being targeted by the party in a bid to overthrow existing state governments fiving examples of Madhya Pradesh where the party has been successful and West Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains a thorn in the side for Amit Shah who The Economist calls “Mr Modi’s fearsome chief lieutenant”.

It criticizes the Modi government’s increasing stranglehold on the media saying, “In the past two months, new rules have curtailed the permitted level of foreign investment in online media and placed the entire sector under the authority of the broadcasting ministry.” Curbing access to foreign funding has been a strategy the government has used previously in shutting down human rights organisations and NGOs. It cites the example of how Amnesty International was forced to wrap up operations in India.

The entire piece as published in The Economist may be read here.

Related:

Time magazine calls Shaheen Bagh daadi global icon!
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee
George Soros calls out Modi on Kashmir, Hindutva
India plummets 10 place on Global Democracy Index

The Economist slams Modi regime again!

Cites examples of Arnab Goswami and Stan Swamy to highlight disparities in justice delivery

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

A November 28 briefing in The Economist, has once again voiced strong opinions against the Modi government. The piece titled Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state minces no words as it enumerates instances of how there is a marked difference between how people are treated in India based on their support for the ruling regime.

It begins by giving the example of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswamy, whose case was addressed by the judicial system with an unprecedented speed. “Mr Goswami spent just a week in detention, and his case had hardly reached the lowest rung of courts, yet the country’s topmost judges ignored the court’s backlog of some 60,000 cases to schedule a bail hearing within a day of the anchor’s appeal. This is in a country where prisons hold twice as many inmates awaiting trial, some 330,000 people, as they do convicts,” said The Economist.

It goes on to showcase how a majority of undertrials, especially from oppressed and marginalized groups or religious and ethnic minorities seldom get access to justice at the same speed. It also highlights how the courts have treated cases of dissenters and activists. The piece sites examples of Fr. Stan Swamy as well as the hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed in Kashmir when several young men, some still teenagers, went missing during the shutdown in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.

The Economist then goes on to warn of impending authoritarianism in the country, given the systematic groundwork being prepared by the regime. “Many cogs in India’s institutional machinery are not merely complacent, but have grown complicit in a project that threatens to turn the country into a one-party state,” says the piece. It slams the police in particular for allowing itself to become a tool of oppression saying, “Of the ostensibly independent institutions that are now compliant, India’s police stand out. Despite individually humane and honest officers, the impression Indians hold of the force is that its main purpose is to protect the powerful and persecute the weak. A case in point is the Delhi police’s management of communal riots that racked parts of India’s capital for three days last winter, leaving 53 dead.”

It also cites examples of the regime's stranglehold over other institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), where the regime has instituted its ‘yes-men’ in positions of power. It even questioned the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The Economist also sites examples of non-BJP run states in India being targeted by the party in a bid to overthrow existing state governments fiving examples of Madhya Pradesh where the party has been successful and West Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remains a thorn in the side for Amit Shah who The Economist calls “Mr Modi’s fearsome chief lieutenant”.

It criticizes the Modi government’s increasing stranglehold on the media saying, “In the past two months, new rules have curtailed the permitted level of foreign investment in online media and placed the entire sector under the authority of the broadcasting ministry.” Curbing access to foreign funding has been a strategy the government has used previously in shutting down human rights organisations and NGOs. It cites the example of how Amnesty International was forced to wrap up operations in India.

The entire piece as published in The Economist may be read here.

Related:

Time magazine calls Shaheen Bagh daadi global icon!
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee
George Soros calls out Modi on Kashmir, Hindutva
India plummets 10 place on Global Democracy Index

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AAP dubbed BJP 'anti-farmer, now Kejriwal must prove he is 'pro-farmer'

Delhi Police seek permission from Delhi government to convert nine stadiums in the city into temporary jails to detain farmers

27 Nov 2020

AAP

Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) marked its anniversary on November 26 (formally launched on 26 November 2012). As attempts were being made to stop thousands of farmers marching towards Delhi on the same day, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, took to social media to condemn the violence on the farmers. He called the three farming bills that they are protesting against, “anti-farmer” and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - led central government “instead of withdrawing this bill”, is preventing farmers “from holding peaceful demonstrations”, and assaulting them with water cannons. He called this a “crime” against the farmers, and said to be able to hold a peaceful demonstration is their Constitutional right.

A day later some of the onus is likely to shift onto the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government itself. The Delhi Police, which takes its directions and orders from Union Home Minister Amit Shah has sought official permission from the Delhi government to convert nine stadiums in the city into temporary prisons. This has firmly put the onus on Kejriwal again. Will he allow it, after he gave a pro-farmer statement? A litmus test indeed. In the past the Delhi Government had reportedly given permission to allow stadiums  to be used as temporary prisons to hold the activists detained for protesting against CAA-NRC-NPR in December 2019. Hundreds, including senior citizens, were arrested and held at various locations across the city, including stadiums, for hours. 

 

Today, November 27, there may just be thousands of farmers who will be arrested if they manage to enter the heavily fortified national capital region, and hold even a symbolic protest anywhere in the city. “The Delhi Police is not under the state government,” is the common refrain from the party in power. This is the most repeated reason given whenever a crucial law and order situation arises. This time, however, a theory is afoot that “BJP has threatened the AAP govt that if any law and order problem happens , President Rule will be imposed ....So as to pressurize them for permission for jails.”

 

This however, should not matter to the Kejriwal-led government, which perhaps may have to create more containment zones, perhaps even a night-curfew, selected market closures if the Covid-19 cases in the city continue to rise. The so-called “threat” of Presidential rule is unlikely to be issued. If the Centre wants it can impose President's rule in any state, without the state Government’s ‘permission’. No such imposition has been put in place in Haryana, where the police clashed with farmers groups to stop their movement towards Delhi. 

On Friday November 27, about 10 tear gas shells were fired at farmers as they approached the barbed barricades set up by the Delhi Police at the Singhu Border. This is the major entry-exit point at Narela in Delhi on one side and Sonepat in Haryana on the other, stated media reports. Tear gas shells had earlier been fired at the Tikri border, in an attempt to  top the farmers to stop them from entering the National Capital Region.

However the farmers seem to be determined and prepared to face all obstacles:

 

 

While the Delhi government is yet to formally state its stand on the permission sought by Delhi Police to convert nine stadiums into temporary jails, more metro stations have been closed today by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). These include: entry & exit gates of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, Bahadurgarh City, Pandit Shree Ram Sharma, Tikri Border, Tikri Kalan and Ghevra stations on Green Line. Yesterday, multiple stations were closed in the New Delhi/Central Delhi areas.

For now, senior AAP leaders are using this opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for the way the farmers are being treated. They have also urged the Delhi Chief Minister to welcome the farmers into NCR and reject the demand of Delhi Police to use stadiums as jails.

 

 

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, at least 105 farmers were detained on Thursday, and the number is expected to rise with more farmer groups reaching Delhi on Friday. The news report quoted an anonymous “senior police officer aware of the development,” saying that the “Looking at the situation at the borders, we think we will require such places to keep the detainees. We are yet to receive a confirmation.” 

Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha also urged the Delhi government to deny the permission. “The farmer of our country is neither a criminal nor a terrorist. Right to protest peacefully is enshrined in Indian Constitution - Article 19(1) and protests are the hallmark of a free, democratic society,” he tweeted.

 

 

Related:

Top 10 moments of November 26, 2020

Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!

LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

Right Wing media working overtime to discredit farmers?

We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

 

 

AAP dubbed BJP 'anti-farmer, now Kejriwal must prove he is 'pro-farmer'

Delhi Police seek permission from Delhi government to convert nine stadiums in the city into temporary jails to detain farmers

AAP

Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) marked its anniversary on November 26 (formally launched on 26 November 2012). As attempts were being made to stop thousands of farmers marching towards Delhi on the same day, Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, took to social media to condemn the violence on the farmers. He called the three farming bills that they are protesting against, “anti-farmer” and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - led central government “instead of withdrawing this bill”, is preventing farmers “from holding peaceful demonstrations”, and assaulting them with water cannons. He called this a “crime” against the farmers, and said to be able to hold a peaceful demonstration is their Constitutional right.

A day later some of the onus is likely to shift onto the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government itself. The Delhi Police, which takes its directions and orders from Union Home Minister Amit Shah has sought official permission from the Delhi government to convert nine stadiums in the city into temporary prisons. This has firmly put the onus on Kejriwal again. Will he allow it, after he gave a pro-farmer statement? A litmus test indeed. In the past the Delhi Government had reportedly given permission to allow stadiums  to be used as temporary prisons to hold the activists detained for protesting against CAA-NRC-NPR in December 2019. Hundreds, including senior citizens, were arrested and held at various locations across the city, including stadiums, for hours. 

 

Today, November 27, there may just be thousands of farmers who will be arrested if they manage to enter the heavily fortified national capital region, and hold even a symbolic protest anywhere in the city. “The Delhi Police is not under the state government,” is the common refrain from the party in power. This is the most repeated reason given whenever a crucial law and order situation arises. This time, however, a theory is afoot that “BJP has threatened the AAP govt that if any law and order problem happens , President Rule will be imposed ....So as to pressurize them for permission for jails.”

 

This however, should not matter to the Kejriwal-led government, which perhaps may have to create more containment zones, perhaps even a night-curfew, selected market closures if the Covid-19 cases in the city continue to rise. The so-called “threat” of Presidential rule is unlikely to be issued. If the Centre wants it can impose President's rule in any state, without the state Government’s ‘permission’. No such imposition has been put in place in Haryana, where the police clashed with farmers groups to stop their movement towards Delhi. 

On Friday November 27, about 10 tear gas shells were fired at farmers as they approached the barbed barricades set up by the Delhi Police at the Singhu Border. This is the major entry-exit point at Narela in Delhi on one side and Sonepat in Haryana on the other, stated media reports. Tear gas shells had earlier been fired at the Tikri border, in an attempt to  top the farmers to stop them from entering the National Capital Region.

However the farmers seem to be determined and prepared to face all obstacles:

 

 

While the Delhi government is yet to formally state its stand on the permission sought by Delhi Police to convert nine stadiums into temporary jails, more metro stations have been closed today by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). These include: entry & exit gates of Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, Bahadurgarh City, Pandit Shree Ram Sharma, Tikri Border, Tikri Kalan and Ghevra stations on Green Line. Yesterday, multiple stations were closed in the New Delhi/Central Delhi areas.

For now, senior AAP leaders are using this opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for the way the farmers are being treated. They have also urged the Delhi Chief Minister to welcome the farmers into NCR and reject the demand of Delhi Police to use stadiums as jails.

 

 

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, at least 105 farmers were detained on Thursday, and the number is expected to rise with more farmer groups reaching Delhi on Friday. The news report quoted an anonymous “senior police officer aware of the development,” saying that the “Looking at the situation at the borders, we think we will require such places to keep the detainees. We are yet to receive a confirmation.” 

Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha also urged the Delhi government to deny the permission. “The farmer of our country is neither a criminal nor a terrorist. Right to protest peacefully is enshrined in Indian Constitution - Article 19(1) and protests are the hallmark of a free, democratic society,” he tweeted.

 

 

Related:

Top 10 moments of November 26, 2020

Second peasant strike in two months garners even bigger support!

LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020

Right Wing media working overtime to discredit farmers?

We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

 

 

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Father Stan Swamy moves NIA court for bail

The Tribal rights activist has filed a fresh application after his bail plea citing medical reasons was rejected by NIA court in October

27 Nov 2020

Stan swamy

The oldest person to be arrested for terrorism related offences, Father Stan Swamy has filed a bail application before the National Investigation Agency, Special Court in Mumbai to be released from Taloja Jail. His application has been filed through Sharif Shaikh.

The primary ground for seeking bail is that he is 83 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The bail plea states that he was shifted to the prison hospital. It further contends that there is no risk of flight or jumping bail.

“…he was not arrested during the long investigation lasting more than 2 years itself shows that he was never seen as a flight risk or someone who would tamper with evidence. It was a malafide arrest”, the plea reads as per Bar and Bench.

The bail application further states that he was not arrested despite having been interrogated twice in July and August of 2020, until he was arrested finally on October 8, 2020. Nothing was found after two raids were subsequently conducted in Swamy's residence. In fact, the Pune Police had also stated on record in a plea filed by Swamy in Bombay High Court that the “they had no intention of arresting him, as he was not an accused.”

Further, the application argues that his name was not even a part of the original FIR. His name was claimed to have been added in a remand application in 2018 by the police as a suspected accused.

The bail plea also mentions that the NIA had allegedly not claimed that Father Swamy was present close to the site of Bhima Koregaon when the incident took place. Swamy apprised the court that the evidence allegedly relied upon by the NIA was correspondence with various people to seek legal aid for Father Stan’s organisation, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), which works for undertrial Adivasis and Dalits falsely accused as Maoists.

Father Stan had requested the court to provide him with a sipper mug on November 6 and the National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s lawyers had sought a good 20 days’ time to file a reply to Father Stan Swamy’s application. 

The NIA yesterday, on November 26 expressed their inability to provide a straw and sipper mug to the Parkinson’s inflicted Priest. Father Stan then contended before the special court that he required a sipper or straw to drink liquids due to vigorous shaking of hands and some warm clothes for the winter.  

The court has now directed the medical officer to reply to the requirement of straw and sipper along with winter clothes. The matter will now be heard on December 4.

Fr. Stan Swamy was arrested from Ranchi by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the night of October 8 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. He has been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Related:

Taloja Jail may soon get a deluge of ‘sippers’, but will they reach Fr Stan Swamy?

Adivasis and the Society of Jesus have taught me to lead a simple life: Fr Stan Swamy

NPRD petitions NHRC to provide Fr Stan Swamy ‘reasonable accommodations’ in jail

Bhima Koregaon case: Stan Swamy's bail plea rejected

Father Stan Swamy moves NIA court for bail

The Tribal rights activist has filed a fresh application after his bail plea citing medical reasons was rejected by NIA court in October

Stan swamy

The oldest person to be arrested for terrorism related offences, Father Stan Swamy has filed a bail application before the National Investigation Agency, Special Court in Mumbai to be released from Taloja Jail. His application has been filed through Sharif Shaikh.

The primary ground for seeking bail is that he is 83 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The bail plea states that he was shifted to the prison hospital. It further contends that there is no risk of flight or jumping bail.

“…he was not arrested during the long investigation lasting more than 2 years itself shows that he was never seen as a flight risk or someone who would tamper with evidence. It was a malafide arrest”, the plea reads as per Bar and Bench.

The bail application further states that he was not arrested despite having been interrogated twice in July and August of 2020, until he was arrested finally on October 8, 2020. Nothing was found after two raids were subsequently conducted in Swamy's residence. In fact, the Pune Police had also stated on record in a plea filed by Swamy in Bombay High Court that the “they had no intention of arresting him, as he was not an accused.”

Further, the application argues that his name was not even a part of the original FIR. His name was claimed to have been added in a remand application in 2018 by the police as a suspected accused.

The bail plea also mentions that the NIA had allegedly not claimed that Father Swamy was present close to the site of Bhima Koregaon when the incident took place. Swamy apprised the court that the evidence allegedly relied upon by the NIA was correspondence with various people to seek legal aid for Father Stan’s organisation, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), which works for undertrial Adivasis and Dalits falsely accused as Maoists.

Father Stan had requested the court to provide him with a sipper mug on November 6 and the National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s lawyers had sought a good 20 days’ time to file a reply to Father Stan Swamy’s application. 

The NIA yesterday, on November 26 expressed their inability to provide a straw and sipper mug to the Parkinson’s inflicted Priest. Father Stan then contended before the special court that he required a sipper or straw to drink liquids due to vigorous shaking of hands and some warm clothes for the winter.  

The court has now directed the medical officer to reply to the requirement of straw and sipper along with winter clothes. The matter will now be heard on December 4.

Fr. Stan Swamy was arrested from Ranchi by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the night of October 8 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. He has been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Related:

Taloja Jail may soon get a deluge of ‘sippers’, but will they reach Fr Stan Swamy?

Adivasis and the Society of Jesus have taught me to lead a simple life: Fr Stan Swamy

NPRD petitions NHRC to provide Fr Stan Swamy ‘reasonable accommodations’ in jail

Bhima Koregaon case: Stan Swamy's bail plea rejected

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We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

State forces Vs farmers: Police set up barricades to stop farmers marching for their rights, shut down key metro stations, amp up security on Haryana, Uttar Pradesh borders

26 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:m.hindustantimes.com

The mighty Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led state governments, who have earned political power fuelled by votes from farmers after making many promises have now ordered its police force to make sure the democratic protest march does not reach Delhi. Security has been heightened at Delhi's borders with Faridabad, Gurgram in Haryana and along the borders with Uttar Pradesh. The march to Delhi was called soon after farmers in Punjab called off their rail blockade for 15 days to allow the entry of essential items.

Since yesterday, the Haryana government barricaded its borders, suspended bus services with Punjab. The Delhi Police which is controlled by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been on alert, and borders at Gurugram, Faridabad, Karnal (all in Haryana) as well as areas along Uttar Pradesh border have been fortified. Delhi Police has also ordered that exit gates at key Metro stations are shut down till late afternoon today. These metro stations are all in Central/ New Delhi and are near Ministries, Parliament, Prime Ministers and Cabinet ministers residences and offices. Even on regular days these areas have high security and large gatherings are not allowed. 

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/cw4WzUIl55kvD-tdH_xhISJuuhRK1t0aKxL71i7X2Rg5hQWw-8te3xAGbt_awGD3VZB9NE9d8lb22EshqvqH_51rncvRacsX72u2vGnvWeLjkJ3oqQ0bz2e05Uu8cpaFMYueIh6D

According to information shared by Indian Express, the Delhi Police has adopted a new strategy. They are using trucks, filled with sand to stop farmers’ tractors at the Singhu Border.

 

Protesting farmers in BJP-ruled Haryana have already had a tough time marching towards Delhi, even after they braved chilling water canons in freezing winters, razor wires, road blocks, in Ambala, and at Kurukshetra, all ordered in place by the Haryana government. There is a heavy security detail deployed on Delhi-Jammu highway  near Karna Lake in Karnal,  stated  journalists who have been sharing images and reports from the sites.

 

For the past  two days, Haryana police have been on overdrive, with traffic advisories warning commuters about a series of blockades at Ambala, Bhiwani, Karnal, Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar and Sonipat. Blockades were also put up at the four major National Highways leading towards Delhi - from Ambala, Hisar, Rewari and Palwal - and at entry points from Haryana to Delhi stated news reports. According to Tribune, Chandigarh's Mohali Police issued an advisory on Wednesday night against taking the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Delhi and the Patiala-Zirakpur-Chandigarh routes, where farmers' protest march had caused traffic jams.  Alternative routes suggested were -- Chandigarh-Panchkula-Nada Sahib-Yamunanagar-Delhi route for Delhi, and the diversion from Chhatt Light point towards Mohali to Chandigarh.

 

As farmers, and those marching in solidarity with them moved ahead with determination even drenched in the cold winter evening, the state did not relent. Many figured out alternate inner routes to be able to reach Delhi. The massive security arrangements at the Delhi-Haryana border at Gurugram seem to show the fear that the political class fears when the farmers rise to demand justice. The build-up is the heaviest on the Haryana side stated news report, and the Delhi police have also gathered at the spot, determined not to let the protesters in. Unfortunate signs, as many in the police and para military forces also come from farming families themselves.

According to news reports the Delhi Police had already rejected all requests from farmers' organisations from six states – Uttar Pradesh,  Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala & Punjab -- seeking permission to hold a democratic protest in the National Capital against the farm laws they deem unfair. News reports stated that the Delhi Police even  said they would take legal action against violators, citing the ban on  gatherings as a part of the Covid-19 prevention protocol. However, a similar high security protocol has been seen when the farmers gave a Dilli Chalo call before.

Leaders like Sardar Jagjit Singh Dallewal led thousands of farmers through broken police barricades at the Punjab-Haryana border, and marched into Tohana in Haryana, moving towards Delhi.

 

And as it announced the closure of key metro stations in the Capital,  Delhi police called the farmers’  march towards Delhi a “snap protest/rally/march.”

 

Related:

LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020
Punjab Haryana HC issues notice to Haryana govt over alleged illegal detention of farmer
Adivasi Union to stand with peasants of country during nationwide protests

We will stop your march at all cost: Political message to farmers?

State forces Vs farmers: Police set up barricades to stop farmers marching for their rights, shut down key metro stations, amp up security on Haryana, Uttar Pradesh borders

Image Courtesy:m.hindustantimes.com

The mighty Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led state governments, who have earned political power fuelled by votes from farmers after making many promises have now ordered its police force to make sure the democratic protest march does not reach Delhi. Security has been heightened at Delhi's borders with Faridabad, Gurgram in Haryana and along the borders with Uttar Pradesh. The march to Delhi was called soon after farmers in Punjab called off their rail blockade for 15 days to allow the entry of essential items.

Since yesterday, the Haryana government barricaded its borders, suspended bus services with Punjab. The Delhi Police which is controlled by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been on alert, and borders at Gurugram, Faridabad, Karnal (all in Haryana) as well as areas along Uttar Pradesh border have been fortified. Delhi Police has also ordered that exit gates at key Metro stations are shut down till late afternoon today. These metro stations are all in Central/ New Delhi and are near Ministries, Parliament, Prime Ministers and Cabinet ministers residences and offices. Even on regular days these areas have high security and large gatherings are not allowed. 

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/cw4WzUIl55kvD-tdH_xhISJuuhRK1t0aKxL71i7X2Rg5hQWw-8te3xAGbt_awGD3VZB9NE9d8lb22EshqvqH_51rncvRacsX72u2vGnvWeLjkJ3oqQ0bz2e05Uu8cpaFMYueIh6D

According to information shared by Indian Express, the Delhi Police has adopted a new strategy. They are using trucks, filled with sand to stop farmers’ tractors at the Singhu Border.

 

Protesting farmers in BJP-ruled Haryana have already had a tough time marching towards Delhi, even after they braved chilling water canons in freezing winters, razor wires, road blocks, in Ambala, and at Kurukshetra, all ordered in place by the Haryana government. There is a heavy security detail deployed on Delhi-Jammu highway  near Karna Lake in Karnal,  stated  journalists who have been sharing images and reports from the sites.

 

For the past  two days, Haryana police have been on overdrive, with traffic advisories warning commuters about a series of blockades at Ambala, Bhiwani, Karnal, Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar and Sonipat. Blockades were also put up at the four major National Highways leading towards Delhi - from Ambala, Hisar, Rewari and Palwal - and at entry points from Haryana to Delhi stated news reports. According to Tribune, Chandigarh's Mohali Police issued an advisory on Wednesday night against taking the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Delhi and the Patiala-Zirakpur-Chandigarh routes, where farmers' protest march had caused traffic jams.  Alternative routes suggested were -- Chandigarh-Panchkula-Nada Sahib-Yamunanagar-Delhi route for Delhi, and the diversion from Chhatt Light point towards Mohali to Chandigarh.

 

As farmers, and those marching in solidarity with them moved ahead with determination even drenched in the cold winter evening, the state did not relent. Many figured out alternate inner routes to be able to reach Delhi. The massive security arrangements at the Delhi-Haryana border at Gurugram seem to show the fear that the political class fears when the farmers rise to demand justice. The build-up is the heaviest on the Haryana side stated news report, and the Delhi police have also gathered at the spot, determined not to let the protesters in. Unfortunate signs, as many in the police and para military forces also come from farming families themselves.

According to news reports the Delhi Police had already rejected all requests from farmers' organisations from six states – Uttar Pradesh,  Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala & Punjab -- seeking permission to hold a democratic protest in the National Capital against the farm laws they deem unfair. News reports stated that the Delhi Police even  said they would take legal action against violators, citing the ban on  gatherings as a part of the Covid-19 prevention protocol. However, a similar high security protocol has been seen when the farmers gave a Dilli Chalo call before.

Leaders like Sardar Jagjit Singh Dallewal led thousands of farmers through broken police barricades at the Punjab-Haryana border, and marched into Tohana in Haryana, moving towards Delhi.

 

And as it announced the closure of key metro stations in the Capital,  Delhi police called the farmers’  march towards Delhi a “snap protest/rally/march.”

 

Related:

LIVE Updates on All India General Strike and Peasants' Protest 2020
Punjab Haryana HC issues notice to Haryana govt over alleged illegal detention of farmer
Adivasi Union to stand with peasants of country during nationwide protests

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Kerala govt to withdraw controversial Sec 118A from Kerala Police Act

The decision was made in a special cabinet meeting held by the LDF govt on November 24

25 Nov 2020

kerala

The Kerala government has decided to retract its controversial insertion of section 118A in the Kerala Police Act. The CPI-M-led LDF government decided in a special cabinet meeting held on November 24 that there shall soon be an ordinance to withdraw the said amendment, that caused quite a stir in the left front as well as among the people. The section 118A was being criticised for attacking freedom of speech and many had pointed out that the law could be easily misused. The section had provided for either imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000/- or both to those who produce, publish or disseminate content through any means of communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala had made a public statement shortly after the ordinance inserting section 118A was assented by the Governor, that “The LDF Govt in Kerala will certainly consider all creative opinions and suggestions that are being aired with regard to this amendment”. Even the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to clarify that the state government had decided not to implement the said amendment, and will have a detailed discussion in the Assembly and collect feedback from various sections.

The ordinance received the Governor's assent on November 21 drawing a lot of flak from people, even those who supported the Left front. The CM had clarified that the government decided to bring in the ordinance in view of widespread abuse of social media and that various sections of society including women and transgenders are being attacked through social media with defamatory and obscene campaigns. Yet, during the hearing of petitions filed before the Kerala High Court, the state government submitted that there will be no adverse action, registration of FIR or suo moto cognisance based on the section 118A of the state’s Police Act.

Related:

Kerala government not to implement the controversial Police Act amendment for now

No coercive action under section 118A of the Kerala Police Act: State gov't to HC

Will the new amendment to Kerala Police Act curb free speech?

Kerala govt to withdraw controversial Sec 118A from Kerala Police Act

The decision was made in a special cabinet meeting held by the LDF govt on November 24

kerala

The Kerala government has decided to retract its controversial insertion of section 118A in the Kerala Police Act. The CPI-M-led LDF government decided in a special cabinet meeting held on November 24 that there shall soon be an ordinance to withdraw the said amendment, that caused quite a stir in the left front as well as among the people. The section 118A was being criticised for attacking freedom of speech and many had pointed out that the law could be easily misused. The section had provided for either imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000/- or both to those who produce, publish or disseminate content through any means of communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala had made a public statement shortly after the ordinance inserting section 118A was assented by the Governor, that “The LDF Govt in Kerala will certainly consider all creative opinions and suggestions that are being aired with regard to this amendment”. Even the Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan was quick to clarify that the state government had decided not to implement the said amendment, and will have a detailed discussion in the Assembly and collect feedback from various sections.

The ordinance received the Governor's assent on November 21 drawing a lot of flak from people, even those who supported the Left front. The CM had clarified that the government decided to bring in the ordinance in view of widespread abuse of social media and that various sections of society including women and transgenders are being attacked through social media with defamatory and obscene campaigns. Yet, during the hearing of petitions filed before the Kerala High Court, the state government submitted that there will be no adverse action, registration of FIR or suo moto cognisance based on the section 118A of the state’s Police Act.

Related:

Kerala government not to implement the controversial Police Act amendment for now

No coercive action under section 118A of the Kerala Police Act: State gov't to HC

Will the new amendment to Kerala Police Act curb free speech?

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UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’

UP has become the third BJP ruled state to take steps towards formulating a law against the radical term ‘love jihad’

25 Nov 2020

Yogi AdityanathImage: PTI


After Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, Uttar Pradesh has become the third BJP ruled state to take concrete steps towards bringing about a law against what they call ‘love jihad’. On November 24, the UP government cabinet gave its nod for the ordinance that penalises forceful religious conversions.

The ordinance provides for a jail term of 1-5 years with Rs 15,000 penalty for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors and women of SC/SC community, there will be jail term of 3-10 years with Rs 25,000 penalty, reported several news agencies.

“In cases of forced mass conversions, the ordinance provides for jail term of three-10 years with Rs 50,000 penalty. If a person wants to perform marriage after converting into any other religion, they will need to take permission from DM two months before marriage,” state Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said, as reported by Indian Express.

The state’s law commission had submitted a report to the UP government along with a draft of Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019’, which had proposed that conversion done for the sole purpose of marriage be declared null and void.

This move was expected as Yogi Adityanath, the CM of UP had recently said at a public meeting in Jaunpur that people waging ‘love jihad’ should mend their ways or be ready for their final journey. “Ram naam satya hai ki yatra nikalne wali hai”, he had warned.

Ironically, Allahabad High Court while giving its decision in Salamat Ansari and Ors vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors observed “Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty. Interference in a personal relationship, would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.” In this case, the girl, a Hindu had embraced Islam and married a Muslim man.

Interestingly, even the SIT probe put in motion by Kanpur Police into 14 cases of  relationships between Hindu women and Muslim men concluded that it found no evidence that the Muslim youth who were investigated received any  funding from abroad thus dismissing the ‘conspiracy’ angle.

On one hand, the judiciary is upholding the individuals’ right to life in choosing a desired partner in an inter-faith marriage, and on the other hand the state assembly is about to pass a law infringing the same liberty of two consenting adults. It is a clear juxtaposition with two pillars of democracy holding contrasting views on the same issue.

Meanwhile, many opposition ruled states have criticised the law against ‘love Jihad’. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashik Gehlot commented, “Love Jihad is a word manufactured by BJP to divide the Nation & disturb communal harmony. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in love.”

Also, Maharashtra’s coalition ruling party Shiv Sena, in its mouth piece ‘Saamna’ pointed out that BJP’s Minister of State for Home Affairs earlier this year said in Parliament that the concept of ‘Love Jihad’ has no place in law and till now no case has been reported by central agencies in this connection.

Related:

Right to choose a partner is intrinsic to Right to life & personal liberty: Allahabad HC

UP SIT probe says there is no ‘love jihad’, rules out conspiracy, outside funding

Haryana to form committee for law on love-jihad

UP cabinet clear ordinance against ‘love jihad’

UP has become the third BJP ruled state to take steps towards formulating a law against the radical term ‘love jihad’

Yogi AdityanathImage: PTI


After Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, Uttar Pradesh has become the third BJP ruled state to take concrete steps towards bringing about a law against what they call ‘love jihad’. On November 24, the UP government cabinet gave its nod for the ordinance that penalises forceful religious conversions.

The ordinance provides for a jail term of 1-5 years with Rs 15,000 penalty for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors and women of SC/SC community, there will be jail term of 3-10 years with Rs 25,000 penalty, reported several news agencies.

“In cases of forced mass conversions, the ordinance provides for jail term of three-10 years with Rs 50,000 penalty. If a person wants to perform marriage after converting into any other religion, they will need to take permission from DM two months before marriage,” state Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said, as reported by Indian Express.

The state’s law commission had submitted a report to the UP government along with a draft of Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019’, which had proposed that conversion done for the sole purpose of marriage be declared null and void.

This move was expected as Yogi Adityanath, the CM of UP had recently said at a public meeting in Jaunpur that people waging ‘love jihad’ should mend their ways or be ready for their final journey. “Ram naam satya hai ki yatra nikalne wali hai”, he had warned.

Ironically, Allahabad High Court while giving its decision in Salamat Ansari and Ors vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors observed “Right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty. Interference in a personal relationship, would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.” In this case, the girl, a Hindu had embraced Islam and married a Muslim man.

Interestingly, even the SIT probe put in motion by Kanpur Police into 14 cases of  relationships between Hindu women and Muslim men concluded that it found no evidence that the Muslim youth who were investigated received any  funding from abroad thus dismissing the ‘conspiracy’ angle.

On one hand, the judiciary is upholding the individuals’ right to life in choosing a desired partner in an inter-faith marriage, and on the other hand the state assembly is about to pass a law infringing the same liberty of two consenting adults. It is a clear juxtaposition with two pillars of democracy holding contrasting views on the same issue.

Meanwhile, many opposition ruled states have criticised the law against ‘love Jihad’. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashik Gehlot commented, “Love Jihad is a word manufactured by BJP to divide the Nation & disturb communal harmony. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in love.”

Also, Maharashtra’s coalition ruling party Shiv Sena, in its mouth piece ‘Saamna’ pointed out that BJP’s Minister of State for Home Affairs earlier this year said in Parliament that the concept of ‘Love Jihad’ has no place in law and till now no case has been reported by central agencies in this connection.

Related:

Right to choose a partner is intrinsic to Right to life & personal liberty: Allahabad HC

UP SIT probe says there is no ‘love jihad’, rules out conspiracy, outside funding

Haryana to form committee for law on love-jihad

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Farmers, workers, trade unions prepare for nationwide unrest on November 26

As India’s peasantry forms a united front, workers and trade unions hold press conferences to warn people of what is to come on November 26.

24 Nov 2020

Image Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

Workers, farmers gear up for the nationwide protests on November 26, 2020 to decry the anti-people-dubbed laws passed by the central government in recent months.

Central Trade Unions have declared a General Strike across the country to denounce labour codes undemocratically passed by the government as well as to stop the privatisation of public sector undertakings.

According to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur, banks and insurance companies, coal sector, power sector, steam sector, oil sector, various central government employees, several state governments have all served their notices to go on a strike on Constitution Day. Even private transport sectors such as auto drivers, taxi driver unions promised to abstain from work. Public transport in several states has also taken up the cause due to which some buses may not arrive early morning on Thursday. The defence and railways sector also promised to heavily mobilise their employees.

Similarly, scheme workers like anganwadi workers, ASHA personnel shall protest on the streets in both rural and urban areas following the government’s failure in providing adequate relief during lockdown. Hawkers and vendors, bidi workers, agriculture workers and construction workers will also join the strike.

“During the last strike, 25 crore workers came out on the streets. This time we estimate a larger number because workers due to the sheer anguish of workers regarding the insulting manner in which the labour codes were formed,” she said.

Kaur reminded the manner in which the central government recently passed new laws wherein Opposition members were not present in the assembly to challenge the Bills.

“That’s why not only trade unions and farmers but political parties have also come forward in support. The government has made a mockery of the democratic system,” she said.

In fact, workers and farmers have formed a united front for Thursday with each side promising to support the demands of the other.

Following the arrest of as many as 31 farmer leaders in Haryana, Kaur condemned the state government’s act and once again voiced the workers’ support for farmers’ demands.

Just as trade unions have been conducting press conferences at the state level, national-level and state-level coordinators of the All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) also discussed the plan-of-action on November 24 the nationwide protest march.

As many as 13 states declared bandhs at the local level in support of farmers while lakhs of farmers will march towards Delhi intending an indefinite agitation.

Farmer leaders stated that masses would travel to Delhi to stay although the finer details of how many entered the city depended on what happened at Delhi’s border.

According to reports, the ruling government was preventing farmers in and around Delhi-border from entering the place.

Punjab convener of AIKSCC Darshan Pal said that he estimated a conservative number of 1.5 to 2 lakhs people who would march from Punjab to Delhi.

“In Punjab, preparations have reached a climax. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has planned to obstruct Punjab farmers from visiting Delhi via Haryana. Similarly, nine routes to visit Delhi have been barricaded. Yet we will approach the barricade and if they do not let us enter, we’ll sit there and hold protests,” he said.

Pal said that farmers had started for Delhi with ration, bedding, clothes. People adjacent to Punjab have prepared gurudwaras and villages for the gathering. Every tractor leaving the state would have two trolleys – one for farmers, the other for supplies.

Similarly, thousands of tractor trolleys are to begin from Haryana. According to Pal, this is an apt response to Khattar’s repressive actions.

He further mentioned that the central government had invited Punjab farmers for talks on December 3. However, he said farmers would now continue with the protest march regardless.

Regarding preparations in Delhi, AIKSCC member Dr. Sunilam said city police was willing to allow 100 people to enter Jantar Mantar but had given no further update regarding the matter.

Similarly, AIKSCC Working Group Member Ashish Mital said people are assembling in Bijnor, Moradabad, Agra and similar areas near Delhi. He estimated that about 4,000 to 5,000 people will march towards the city from West Uttar Pradesh alone. However, the duration of the protest is unsure due to the central government’s hostility towards the farmers movement, he said.

Further, 16 newly elected MLAs in Bihar said they planned to protest near the legislative assembly on Thursday. Similarly, thousands of farmers also planned to march to the central office in Jharkhand.

Meanwhile, many states had planned protests at the village level. For example, protest marches have been organised in all villages of Andhra Pradesh. Villagers also plan to express solidarity with trade union associations and have planned dharnas in front of district headquarters.

Tamil Nadu convener K Balakrishnan said that the Southern state which has denounced the three agriculture laws and the electricity Bill since July has decided to observe road blockades and rail blockades in more than 500 places on November 26. Similar to Andhra Pradesh, the state also expressed solidarity with the workers’ General Strike.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu had hoisted black flags and sent signatures of villagers from various districts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand the withdrawal of the laws. On September 25, 12,000 people in the state were arrested.

Karnataka convener Byyareddy said at least 1000 centres will observe road blockades on the day of the march. On November 27, central government offices will be picketed. Telangana also announced a gramin bandh and road blockades at the district level.

The leaders announced that the final meeting would be held on November 25 on the eve of the protest for final confirmations by the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha Coordination Committee.

Related:

At least 30 farmer leaders in Haryana arrested!
Stoke the fire in your hearts! Rise in protest! Workers, lawyers, Unions stand with India’s farmers
We stand in solidarity: Trade Unions oppose Centre's anti-people laws
Centre’s plan to privatise PSUs an anti-people policy: AITUC

Farmers, workers, trade unions prepare for nationwide unrest on November 26

As India’s peasantry forms a united front, workers and trade unions hold press conferences to warn people of what is to come on November 26.

Image Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

Workers, farmers gear up for the nationwide protests on November 26, 2020 to decry the anti-people-dubbed laws passed by the central government in recent months.

Central Trade Unions have declared a General Strike across the country to denounce labour codes undemocratically passed by the government as well as to stop the privatisation of public sector undertakings.

According to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur, banks and insurance companies, coal sector, power sector, steam sector, oil sector, various central government employees, several state governments have all served their notices to go on a strike on Constitution Day. Even private transport sectors such as auto drivers, taxi driver unions promised to abstain from work. Public transport in several states has also taken up the cause due to which some buses may not arrive early morning on Thursday. The defence and railways sector also promised to heavily mobilise their employees.

Similarly, scheme workers like anganwadi workers, ASHA personnel shall protest on the streets in both rural and urban areas following the government’s failure in providing adequate relief during lockdown. Hawkers and vendors, bidi workers, agriculture workers and construction workers will also join the strike.

“During the last strike, 25 crore workers came out on the streets. This time we estimate a larger number because workers due to the sheer anguish of workers regarding the insulting manner in which the labour codes were formed,” she said.

Kaur reminded the manner in which the central government recently passed new laws wherein Opposition members were not present in the assembly to challenge the Bills.

“That’s why not only trade unions and farmers but political parties have also come forward in support. The government has made a mockery of the democratic system,” she said.

In fact, workers and farmers have formed a united front for Thursday with each side promising to support the demands of the other.

Following the arrest of as many as 31 farmer leaders in Haryana, Kaur condemned the state government’s act and once again voiced the workers’ support for farmers’ demands.

Just as trade unions have been conducting press conferences at the state level, national-level and state-level coordinators of the All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) also discussed the plan-of-action on November 24 the nationwide protest march.

As many as 13 states declared bandhs at the local level in support of farmers while lakhs of farmers will march towards Delhi intending an indefinite agitation.

Farmer leaders stated that masses would travel to Delhi to stay although the finer details of how many entered the city depended on what happened at Delhi’s border.

According to reports, the ruling government was preventing farmers in and around Delhi-border from entering the place.

Punjab convener of AIKSCC Darshan Pal said that he estimated a conservative number of 1.5 to 2 lakhs people who would march from Punjab to Delhi.

“In Punjab, preparations have reached a climax. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has planned to obstruct Punjab farmers from visiting Delhi via Haryana. Similarly, nine routes to visit Delhi have been barricaded. Yet we will approach the barricade and if they do not let us enter, we’ll sit there and hold protests,” he said.

Pal said that farmers had started for Delhi with ration, bedding, clothes. People adjacent to Punjab have prepared gurudwaras and villages for the gathering. Every tractor leaving the state would have two trolleys – one for farmers, the other for supplies.

Similarly, thousands of tractor trolleys are to begin from Haryana. According to Pal, this is an apt response to Khattar’s repressive actions.

He further mentioned that the central government had invited Punjab farmers for talks on December 3. However, he said farmers would now continue with the protest march regardless.

Regarding preparations in Delhi, AIKSCC member Dr. Sunilam said city police was willing to allow 100 people to enter Jantar Mantar but had given no further update regarding the matter.

Similarly, AIKSCC Working Group Member Ashish Mital said people are assembling in Bijnor, Moradabad, Agra and similar areas near Delhi. He estimated that about 4,000 to 5,000 people will march towards the city from West Uttar Pradesh alone. However, the duration of the protest is unsure due to the central government’s hostility towards the farmers movement, he said.

Further, 16 newly elected MLAs in Bihar said they planned to protest near the legislative assembly on Thursday. Similarly, thousands of farmers also planned to march to the central office in Jharkhand.

Meanwhile, many states had planned protests at the village level. For example, protest marches have been organised in all villages of Andhra Pradesh. Villagers also plan to express solidarity with trade union associations and have planned dharnas in front of district headquarters.

Tamil Nadu convener K Balakrishnan said that the Southern state which has denounced the three agriculture laws and the electricity Bill since July has decided to observe road blockades and rail blockades in more than 500 places on November 26. Similar to Andhra Pradesh, the state also expressed solidarity with the workers’ General Strike.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu had hoisted black flags and sent signatures of villagers from various districts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand the withdrawal of the laws. On September 25, 12,000 people in the state were arrested.

Karnataka convener Byyareddy said at least 1000 centres will observe road blockades on the day of the march. On November 27, central government offices will be picketed. Telangana also announced a gramin bandh and road blockades at the district level.

The leaders announced that the final meeting would be held on November 25 on the eve of the protest for final confirmations by the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha Coordination Committee.

Related:

At least 30 farmer leaders in Haryana arrested!
Stoke the fire in your hearts! Rise in protest! Workers, lawyers, Unions stand with India’s farmers
We stand in solidarity: Trade Unions oppose Centre's anti-people laws
Centre’s plan to privatise PSUs an anti-people policy: AITUC

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