“Find A Solution”: Supreme Court To UP, Haryana Governments Over Farmers Blocking Roads

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The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the centre and two state governments over roads in the national capital region that remain blocked by farmer groups protesting the three farm laws, and said “you (the centre and the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana) have to find a solution” while also recognising the farmers’ right to protest.

“You have to find a solution… They (farmers) have a right to protest but inflow and outflow can’t be interrupted. (This) causes great inconvenience to other people. If protests are on the traffic should not be stopped… movement of people should not be disturbed,” a bench headed by Justice SK Kaul said.

“The solution lies in hands of the centre and state governments,” the court said.

The matter has been listed for hearing next month.

The court was responding to an affidavit by the Uttar Pradesh government that said efforts to “make farmers understand (the) grossly illegal act of blocking roads” were underway. The affidavit said removing the agitators was difficult because most of them are “aged and old farmers”.

“(Road) diversions have been created to allow for smooth movement of traffic between Ghaziabad (and other places in the state) and Delhi via Maharajpur and Hindon roads, as NH 24 is still blocked,” the UP government said in its affidavit, complaining that the highway had been “repeatedly blocked by farmers protests in January, March and again in April”.

The affidavit was in response to a PIL by a Noida resident – Monica Agarwal had demanded that roads between Noida and Delhi be kept clear so passenger traffic is not affected.

According to her PIL, Ms Agarwal is a single parent with medical issues.

She said it has become a “nightmare” to travel between Delhi and Noida – the journey takes two hours instead of the usual 20 minutes. Ms Agarwal said she had to travel between the two as part of her job.

The Supreme Court had issued notices to the Haryana and UP governments based on the plea.

It had also notified the Delhi government and police.

In the past the Supreme Court had said: “The larger issue can be solved judiciously, administratively and politically… but the common man must not be inconvenienced. We have been repeatedly saying this – that public roads should not be blocked”

Thousands of farmers – most from Punjab, Haryana, and western UP – have been camping at and around Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur – three locations on the national capital’s borders – as well as roads that connect Delhi to Noida.

Their protests made headlines after it led to violent clashes with police in Haryana and Delhi, triggering criticism of the centre over its handling of what started as a peaceful movement.

Across the country tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting since November last year, seeking repeal of laws they fear will eliminate the MSP (Minimum Support Price) system and leave small and marginal growers at the mercy of big corporations.

The government, however, has insisted the laws are beneficial and has refused to roll them back. It has, though, offered to discuss them “point wise” and make some modifications.

Several rounds of talks between have failed to break the deadlock between the two sides.

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