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On October 3, the convoy of Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra’s son ran over farmers protesting in the Lakhimpur district of Uttar Pradesh, killing four. As violence erupted, four more were reported dead.
Farmers have been protesting against three farm laws for the past 11 months, across the country. The government has not shown any inclination to have discourse on the laws with farmers.
When the laws were passed, in spite of repeated requests from the opposition, the ruling party refused to have debated over it. It also denied referring the laws to a special committee, where the law could be discussed further.
This incident has raised many questions about the ruling government.
- How is dissent towards the government treated?
- What has been the response of the government to these protests?
Section 144 was imposed after the incident took place in the district and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, his Punjab counterpart Charanjit Singh Channi, the BSP’s SC Mishra, and the AAP’s Sanjay Singh were among those prevented by the state authorities from reaching Lakhimpur.
As BJP MP Varun Gandhi and his Mother Menka Gandhi raised voices against violence, They were left out of the new National Executive Committee released by BJP.
The role of opposition in such times is very crucial, to make sure there is an unbiased investigation and the ruling party is held accountable. Incidents like this let down the spirit of democracy.
Before the incident, Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra was seen in the video saying “If I got down to action then they would not have even found a way to run away… I want to tell such people to ‘mend your ways’, otherwise I will make them face me and set them right in two minutes.”
Statements like this from the ministers convey the grim situation of protests against the government. Farmers have also been denied permission to protest in the national capital, tear gas and water cannons have also been used to disperse the protests, these protests have survived through tough winters and the COVID pandemic.
The government is capable of turning the narrative and blaming the protestors for the violence that took place and shunning the protests for not being peaceful.
Events like this dampen the image of our country internationally, as Swedish V-dem firm calls India an “Autocratic democracy” or a ‘partly free’ by freedom in the World 2021 country report.
There is still hope for justice as FIRs have been filed against the accused and the case now rests with the Supreme Court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and comprising Justices Suryakant and Hima Kohli listed the matter for hearing on Friday. This case requires an impartial investigation and justice must be delivered.
This article has been written by Rutam Pimplapure for The Paradigm
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