Three former Punjab and Haryana High Court judges — MS Gill, Ranjit Singh and Nawab Singh — have, in a joint statement here on Wednesday, called the Haryana government’s action to stop farmers from moving to Delhi to join protests against the farm laws “brutal, shameful and undemocratic.”
Peaceful protest against any grievance is a constitutionally protected right of every citizen, they said.
“Use of indiscriminate water cannons in this harsh cold winter and use of lathis and other means would put any democratic government to shame. In return, farmers were seen offering water and food to lathi-wielding police,” the three former judges said.
They said the farming community in the country is highly aggrieved against the farm laws passed by the central government in September. The former judges questioned the urgency of the Union government to pass the three laws when there was a lockdown in the country to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Was there any urgency or emergency to issue the ordinances? Such laws could have waited for detailed consideration in Parliament. The government bulldozed its way through to pass these laws. The bills were passed in Rajya Sabha in a very questionable manner by voice vote against the demand of division of votes,” they said.
Protesting farmers at Singhu border in Delhi. (Photo: PTI)
‘CONCERN OF FARMERS MUST BE ADDRESSED’
The former judges said that the concerns of farmers must be addressed. They said that the central government did not show the requisite concern when peaceful protests were confined to Punjab and Haryana. They said the protests have now spread across states like Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.
“It was imperative for the government to take into consideration the concerns of the farmers before enacting these laws. Had this been done, the present situation may have been avoided. Farmers have outrightly rejected these laws pointing out the dangerous outcome,” the former judges said.
‘DEBT-RIDDEN FARMERS WOULD LOSE THEIR LAND AND LIVELIHOOD’
The statement said that the farmers could not take their produce to faraway places even in the state. It said that the corporates may benefit but struggling farmers burdened with unending debts would lose their land and livelihood.
“Government must protect the poor rather than being seen with crorepatis. The apprehension of the farmers that these laws would benefit the corporates cannot be easily discounted. The government needs to realise the difficulty of the small and marginal farmers to deal with big corporates. Even the big and well-do-to farmers cannot stand before the rich corporates” the former judges said.
They appealed to the Union government to hear the cries of the farmers with an open mind.
“We appeal to the good conscience of the government to hear the cries of farmers and consider their demands with an open mind to find a solution to the grievances otherwise protest or unrest in a border state like Punjab may not augur well for peace in the country,” they said.