The farm unions’ legal cell which is representing farmers facing legal challenges emerging out of the Republic Day violence, has written to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) on “illegal detention” and suspension of internet at protest sites on the borders of the national capital.
Internet has been snapped at Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri protest sites to “maintain public safety and for averting public emergency”. Besides this, 127 people have been arrested since the clash between protesting farmers and police during the tractor rally against the three farm laws on January 26.
The lawyer collective has now written to India head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Clear identification of the interrogation officers, memo of arrests, information to family members of those arrested, diary entries, and medical check-up are some of their demands.
The advocates said that the government is violating human rights by acting as an arbitrary power. “Since the initiation of the protest, farmers are getting arrested by police from the protest site unreasonably and inappropriately,” it claimed.
The lawyers alluded the prominent D.K. Basu vs State of West Bengal judgement, in which the Supreme Court laid down a score of guidelines for the police and other agencies to follow during the arrest, detention and interrogation of any person.
“The guidelines were prescribed by the Highest Court of the Nation and the Legislative but executive branch of the Government through the police officials are committing a grave error by violating all the said guidelines,” the five-page letter by Advocates Vasu Kukreja, Jaswanthi Anbuselvam and Ravneet Kaur reads.
The lawyers further said that the internet suspension at the border sites have blocked access of information and have denied issuing many other basic rights, disrupting even the survival of the farmers at the protest sites.
It also brought to the notice of the UNHRC a decision in Bhasin vs Union of India by the Supreme Court and Faheema Shirin vs State of Kerala by High Court which had declared the use of internet as a basic human right.
“That your lordship, as the matter of Human Rights violations, we want your concern towards the situation of farmers in India and in the on-going agitation, kindly interfere in the matter and issue guidelines to the state for violating the human rights,” it requested the UNHRC India head.
On February 5, the UN human rights office had called on Indian authorities and farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws to exercise maximum restraint, emphasising that it is crucial to find “equitable solutions” with due respect to human rights for all.
A total of 160 lawyers, under the banner of ‘Advocates for Farmers’, have split into 11 teams to carry out tasks ranging from data entry of the arrested and missing protesters, figuring out where they are jailed to filing their bail applications.
Few of them have set up their tents at three borders — Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri — and are contacting the families of those arrested or missing by wading from trolly to trolly. Besides this, they have also set up toll-free numbers to address the farmers’ grievances.
Advocates Ajit Pal Singh Mander and Hakam Singh head the teams and carry out coordination among them. “Data is collected by three teams at the border and execution is carried out by eight teams at different courts in the city,” Mander, who belongs to Punjab’s Bathinda district, said.