Is it right to protest in a democracy?

India Dec 26, 2020

It is a right to protest.

Is it right to protest?

Protests are a hallmark of a free, democratic country. A country where people can raise their voice against injustice and their government guarantees that people in power will listen to them and their country won't be led without their consultations. For this, the right to freedom of expression and the right to protest peacefully act as the foundation.

The right to protest from Article 19 of the Indian Constitution assures citizens the right to assemble peaceably and without arms. The right to protest, to have the government accountable for its actions and demands answers to publicly asked questions. It is a fundamental political right of the people that flows directly from a democratic reading of Article 19 as mentioned earlier.

In these past years, we have been witnessing unprecedented growth in civil protests in India. Thousands of people take on the streets to express their outrage from all fractions of the country. Starting from the protests against imperialists such as Non-Cooperation movement (1920), Dandi March (1930), The White Rose Resistance (1942–1943), The Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956), The Chipko movement (1973), Silent Valley protest (1976), The Tree Sitters of Pureora (1978), The Singing Revolution (1986–1991), to

The Assam movement, 1979–1985

The protest was against undocumented immigrants in Assam which was a revolution of the indigenous people and compelled the government to identify and expel illegal immigrants.

Anti-reservation protests, 2006

In opposition to the decision of the Union government of India, led by the Congress to implement reservations for the other backward classes (OBCs) in central and private institutes of higher education.

Jan Lokpal Bill: Anti-Corruption Movement, 2011

To protest corruption, kleptocracy, and other forms of corruption, the Lokpal Bill was premised on the institution of an ombud with the power to deal with corruption in public places. When his demands were accepted by the government, Hazare ended the fast.

Nirbhaya Movement, 2012

After the incident, thousands came out on streets to protest and consider the movement, several steps to make sure the safety of women.

Jadavpur University Protests, 2014

An investigation was demanded into the case of molestation of a female student on campus. After four months of continued agitation, the VC Abhijit Chakrabarti resigned from his post.

Films and Television Institute of India(FTII) Agitation, 2015

Students went on an indefinite strike protesting the head of the Film and Television Institute of India. The agitation continued for 150 days.

Pro-Jallikattu Protests, Tamil Nadu, 2017 Owing to all the complaints by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of animal cruelty, SC banned the traditional game Jallikattu. But after facing a huge amount of protest, later, the Tamil Nadu Government legalized Jallikattu and amended PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) 1960 Act.

Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019

Soon after the passing of the CAA, protests broke out throughout the country against which determined "genuine" Indian citizens, triggering violent protests. But this protest was paused due to outbreak of the corona pandemic.


The Farmers protest, 2020

Farmers have been camping at the borders of Delhi for four weeks now, opposing the three farm bills, the government didn't unravel the deadlock with farmers under this circumstance.

Any unnecessary restraint on such dissent is the inability of that government to listen, to tolerate criticism harms the basic, fundamental rights of peoples, and shows the capacity of the government to govern a democrat's society. Attempts such as the imposition of Section 144 makes it easier for them to suppress and prevents citizens from using their fundamental rights. These restrictions eventually depict the critics and opponents as anti-nationals and traitors hence, deafen the democracy. If such actions are not opposed, it becomes a habit of not taking decisions unanimously, foist them on billions of people, and then, when challenged, a campaign to retrospectively rationalize its opaque, midnight verdicts. Whenever democracy in India will be threatened, people of all political persuasions will protest the misuse of power.

This article has been written by Rutuja Gosavi for The Paradigm

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