Protesting Farmers Posing Covid-19 Risk: NHRC

Indian farmers protesting at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh (UP) on January 29, 2021. Photo: Swaraj Abhiyan
Indian farmers protesting at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh (UP) on January 29, 2021. Photo: Swaraj Abhiyan

As the government has ignored farmers’ demands, most protesters have already left protest sites.

By RMN News Service

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India has taken cognizance of a complaint that the mass gatherings of protesting farmers are flouting Covid-appropriate behaviour. 

Hundreds of protesters have been protesting on the outskirts of Delhi since November 2020 against the new farm laws introduced by the Indian government. As the government has ignored farmers’ demands, most protesters have already left protest sites. But a few farmers are still sitting around Delhi without any purpose.

NHRC observed that the ongoing farmers’ protests are against the rules laid down by the Central Government and the advisory of the Commission itself as safeguards against the pandemic. 

Allegedly, according to NHRC, the situation is likely to worsen day by day due to the increased inflow of farmers at the sites of protests. “They are not only putting their lives at risk but also posing a risk, as the potential carriers of the virus, to the others in the rural areas,” NHRC said.

Rural Resistance: Protests by Farmers

Raman Media Network (RMN) Company – which is working in diversified content creation, management, and distribution businesses on a global scale – has launched “Rural Resistance: Protests by Farmers” editorial section.

This section under the RMN news service has been created to cover the agricultural reforms and ongoing farmers’ protests in India. It carries news, views, and related developments and invites farmers as well as farming experts to share their views which will be published on the site.

You can click here to visit the section.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of NCT of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to submit action-taken reports regarding the steps taken to control the spread of Covid-19 infection at the protest sites of the farmers. The report is to be submitted within four weeks.

Issuing the notices on May 25, the Commission has observed that the country is passing through an unprecedented and scary second wave of Covid-19, which has already claimed more than 300,000 human lives and is still raging virulently in different parts of the country.

NHRC has further observed that the Central and State Governments are struggling against all odds to save lives in the face of inadequate health facilities. Measures like lockdowns, containment zones and Covid protocols are employed to somehow overpower the deadly Covid, which is now leading to other serious diseases like black fungus, white fungus, etc. In these extraordinary circumstances, our sole aim has to be saving human lives, NHRC advised.

Farmers, however, contend that they are taking precautions at protest sites to prevent the Covid contagion. They argue that the government should arrange better healthcare facilities to combat Covid instead of asking farmers to end their agitation.

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Rakesh Raman