Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

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New Delhi, September 27

Amid continued blockade of key roads connecting Delhi to NCR regions by farmers protesting against farm laws, the Haryana Government has told the Supreme Court that it’s making “sincere” efforts to remove the blockade for resumption of free flow of traffic.

“Sincere efforts are being made to remove the blockade from inter-state roads and National Highways and to resume free flow of traffic on those roads for the convenience of the general public by way of persuading the farmer organisations to cooperate,” the Haryana government said in an affidavit filed in the top court.

“Regular deliberations are being held by local administrations with farmer organisations from time to time to convince them to remove the blockade as the general public is facing great hardship due to such blockades,” it added.

Giving details of its efforts, the Haryana government said a state-level committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary was formed to find a way out. The committee’s September 19 meeting wasn’t attended by the farmers’ leaders.

However, industrialists from Sonepat, hit by the blockade, turned up for the meeting on their volition and narrated the “myriad difficulties” faced by them due to the blockade since November last year.

Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government had also submitted in an affidavit that it’s making all efforts to convince farmers that their act of blocking roads was causing grave inconvenience to commuters.

While hearing a petition filed by Monicca Agarwal—a women resident of NOIDA – on the issue, a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul had on August 23 asked the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to find a solution to the blockade of roads connecting Delhi with NCR towns by farmers agitating against the three farm laws

Agarwal—a single parent with some medical issues—alleged that due to blockade of roads by the agitating farmers travelling between NOIDA and Delhi was taking two hours instead of the usual 20 minutes.

On Monday, the matter had to be adjourned as the Bench couldn’t take it up for hearing.

The farmers have a right to protest at a designated space, but they can’t block the traffic, a Bench had said. “The solution lies in the hands of the Union of India and state governments… Mr Mehta what is happening? You have to find a solution, they might have the right to a place to agitate, but the roads can’t be blocked like this,” it had told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Agarwaal said though her work place was in Noida she had to travel to Delhi frequently as she was in a marketing job. Noting that it was taking two hours instead of the normal 20 minutes, she contended that it had become a nightmare to commute between Noida and Delhi.

Maintaining that “democracy and dissent go hand in hand”, the Supreme Court had on October 7, 2020 ruled that roads and public spaces can’t be blocked indefinitely and demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.

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