New Delhi [India], July 31 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recently issued a reminder with a warning for the failure of submission of reply by the Secretaries of Home, Agriculture, Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and the Chief Secretaries of (National Capital Territory) NCT of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh regarding the steps taken by the respective governments on resolving the issues of farmers and the following of COVID-19 guidelines at the protest sites of the farmers at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghajipur borders of Delhi.
The apex human rights watchdog passed the order acting on a petition filed by a noted human rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer, Radhakanta Tripathy.
"The condition of the farmers, including women, senior citizens, name-sake farmers, poor and marginalized ones, has been worsening day by day. The adamant attitude of the governments and the protestors is responsible for the prolonging of the protest, especially when the pandemic situation prevails in the country. This is a case of human rights violation of highest magnitude," Tripathy alleged.
Known for his monumental selfless social work, Tripathy in the petition cited series of farmers' suicides, deaths, sexual harassment, Covid deaths, Covid situation at the protest site. He also pointed out the issues of protesting farmers against the agrarian reforms introduced by the Central Government with respect to the current pandemic situation prevailing in the country.
The NHRC on May 25, 2021, acting on this petition sought for Action Taken Reports (ATR) from the Center and states within four weeks and observed in its order that 'in these extraordinary circumstances, our sole aim has to be to save human lives. Allegedly, the protesters assembled in large numbers are not following the Covid appropriate behaviour and are putting not only their own lives at risk, but also pose a risk of being carriers of the virus to the rural areas.
On October 7, 2020, in the Shaheen Bagh case, the apex court had said that the right to protest cannot be anytime and everywhere.
The plea also stated that homage to the dead farmers has been paid at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, and in the Lok Sabha by observing two minutes of silence for farmers who had lost their lives during the protests.
Citing several incidents and the impact of fake news in the petition, Tripathy also incorporated the views of the international agencies including the Secretary-General of United Nations (UN) and Director of Communications International Monetary Fund (IMF) in his petition.
Tripathy requested the NHRC to act on a war-footing to constitute a team from the NHRC to visit the protest site, assess the situation, and make necessary recommendations in the interest of human rights and justice.
The plea also urges to protect lakhs of our Annadatas (Food givers) becoming victims of the pandemic and to ensure payment of heavy compensation to the family members of the deceased farmers and rehabilitate their families by all possible means.
Tripathy sought direction from the NHRC to address the grievances of the protestors with consideration of the recommendation of Dr M S Swaminathan, Ex-Chairperson of the National Farmers Commission.
Tripathy sought for the formulation of guidelines or advisories for media including the social media on circulation of fake, inappropriate, and wrong news.
The petition also urged the NHRC to ensure Covid precautions at the protest sites and bare necessities of life, medicines, oxygen, ambulance, emergency doctors etc.
The plea further sought for a direction to place on record details of action taken against participants/organisers for violating Covid guidelines and other provisions of law like social distancing, pubic gathering and wearing of face masks etc. during the protest and against those responsible for abetment of committing suicides.
In its latest order, the NHRC observed "No proper reports are received. Only some internal communications have been received in the matter." However, taking lenient view in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHRC issued "reminder to the Chief Secretaries, Govt of NCT Delhi, Haryana and UP to file a requisite report within eight weeks positively, failing which this Commission will be constrained to invoke its coercive powers under section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights (PHR) act, 1993." (ANI)