Farm activists, lawyers term Section 144 in Chandigarh attack on democracy

Farm activists, lawyers term Section 144 in Chandigarh attack on democracy

Representational photo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20

Besides farm activists, lawyers, intellectuals and members of civil society have sharply criticised the UT Administration’s order that earmarks the rally ground in Sector 25 as the only protest site (with permission) in the city while imposing Section 144 ‘as a measure of emergency’. The order was last issued in March this year, according to the Administration’s website.

Issued two days after the Saturday’s Motor Market protest by pro-farmer organisations, where windshields of BJP leaders’ cars were broken allegedly by the protesters, the order is being viewed as “an attack on democracy” and “people’s right to dissent peacefully”.

Prem Singh Bhangu, convener, Legal Cell, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), said: “In entire Chandigarh, there is no apprehension of peace being disturbed. This order has been passed with an intension to debar people who are raising their voice against the farm laws. They want to sabotage this peaceful protest and quell our voice.”

Bhangu said: “Farm activists at roundabouts are creating a public opinion and the city’s response has been overwhelming. This order is undemocratic as even the Supreme Court allows peaceful protest. About four people will continue to stand on roundabouts and protest. If anyone intervenes, then the SKM will oppose it.”

Daljeet Singh Palsora and Gurpreet Singh Somal from the city’s Pendu Sangarsh Committee said: “This order is undemocratic. We condemn it. The UT Administration is under political pressure. Therefore, it is making anti-farmer decisions.”

Advocate RS Bains of the Punjab and Haryana High Court said: “Section 144 is for emergency use only. It is never to dilute the fundamental rights of peaceful protesters. This order is not as per law as only 10-20 people protest at the Plaza or chowks. You can regulate protests, not ban them. Section 144 was never to be a limitation on constitutional rights.”

Bhaag Singh Suhag, president of the District Bar Association, said: “Has this order been implemented in the city only for farmers? BJP people have been organising public functions. This has been done to harass farm activists and register cases against them.”

Vinod Kumar Verma, former vice-president of the District Bar Association, said: “This is just to frustrate the claim of farmers although there is no threat to the public peace. Farm activists have been protesting peacefully for months now.”

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