Human rights panel issues notice to political parties
The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday said it would hold accountable organisations and individuals who exhorted the people to resort to a general strike in Kerala on Saturday in protest against the hike in diesel prices if they “enforced the hartal” at the expense of the rights of the people, chiefly the right to freedom of movement and education.
Chairperson of the Commission J.B. Koshy said the Supreme Court had earlier outlawed calls for ‘bandhs’, general strikes that crippled normal life.
The Kerala High Court had ruled that “enforced hartals” often manifested as “bandhs” and the beguiling difference was only in name.
He said the people were genuinely aggrieved over the hike in diesel prices and drastic reduction in their annual quota of subsidised cooking gas. The decisions would impact life adversely and the ruling front and the Opposition have urged the Centre to revoke the decisions.
However, Mr. Koshy asked how a “hartal” would help alleviate the woes of the already beleaguered population. He said Kerala was one of the few States where protests metamorphosed into “bandhs”.
He said “strike supporters” were very well within their rights to stay away from work, avoid travel, close shop or remain at home. However, they had no right to insist or enforce that others do the same.
The State law enforcement was constitutionally bound to protect the rights of those reporting for work, going for study, visiting hospitals and travelling for various reasons on such strike days. The State should prevent attempts to undermine basic rights in the name of the general strike.
If the police could not identify or apprehend those responsible for destruction of public property or forcible closure of establishments on hartal day, the Commission would hold those who had called for the strike responsible for the action of their supporters. It has registered a case on its own in this regard.
The former judge of the Kerala High Court pointed out that children of common people, chiefly those who relied heavily on government and State-aided institutions for their education, suffered the most from “hartals”. Strikes denied under-privileged students the right to education. In contrast, leaders of most political parties, who call for general strikes at the slightest excuse, ensure the future of their children by enrolling their wards in expensive outside-State or foreign educational institutions, over which “hartals” have no effect.
General strikes robbed manual labourers and unskilled workers of their livelihood by reducing the number of working days. The Commission made these observations in notices issued to the State president of the Bharatiya Janata Party and conveners of the Left Democratic Front and United Democratic Front in Kerala.
‘Law enforcers bound to protect rights of people’ ‘Under-privileged students denied right to education’
‘Law enforcers bound to protect rights of people’
‘Under-privileged students denied right to education’