A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday seeking direction to the authorities to immediately remove farmers, who are protesting at several Delhi border points against the new farm laws, saying commuters are facing hardships due to the road blockades and the gatherings might lead to increase in COVID-19 cases. The plea has sought the apex court directions to the authorities to open the roads at Delhi borders, shift these protestors to allotted place and provide guidelines on social distancing and use of mask at the protest place to contain spread of COVID-19 cases.
The petition, filed by law student Rishabh Sharma, has claimed that Delhi Police had on November 27 allowed these protesters to hold demonstration peacefully at Nirankari ground at Burari here but despite that they have blocked the borders of Delhi. Because of the ongoing protest at the Delhi borders, the roads have been blocked by the protesters and closed border points, which have affected vehicular traffic and people who are travelling to and from Delhi to get medical treatment in reputed government/private hospitals situated in Delhi are also affected, said the plea, filed through advocate Om Prakash Parihar.
It referred to the October 7 verdict, delivered on a petition against blockade of a road in Shaheen Bagh area here by those protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act, in which the apex court had said that public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely and demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. Referring to COVID-19 guidelines issued by the government, the plea has said that despite the advisories not to hold large gathering amid the pandemic, lakhs of farmers have gathered on Delhi borders and this might lead to increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
It is pertinent to note that in view of the prevention of the community spread of the pandemic disease Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is very necessary to remove the gathering and this protest is further blocking the roads for all the emergency/medical services which are very much required to be supplied within the territory of Delhi in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.., it said. The petitioner is seeking urgent direction from this court to issue a direction for immediate removal/ dispersal of such mass gathering of protestors at Delhi borders and shift them to the place already allotted by the Delhi police in view of immediate threat of coronavirus infection and spread, the plea said.
It said that protestors can continue to protest peacefully after threat of coronavirus is over and keeping in view that cases are currently increasing, it is paramount that the protest be stopped on immediate basis. The plea said that due to the ongoing protest at Delhi borders, roads have been blocked and vehicular movement have been affected.
Traffic moved at snail’s pace at several border points of the national capital as police kept key routes connecting Delhi to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh closed in view of the farmers’ protest against the new farm laws, which entered its ninth day on Friday.