Nearly a year after farmers started their protest along the inter-State borders of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for the complete withdrawal of three agricultural laws, the Haryana government has indicated to the Supreme Court that hardly any headway has been made in efforts to convince them to remove “blockades” from inter-State roads and national highways.
The Supreme Court has so far taken a nuanced stand on the issue , recognising the right of the farmers to protest while at the same time advising them against disrupting public movement — an equally important right.
The court, in August, had asked the three States to take stock of the ground situation and consult among themselves about the best way forward.
In its affidavit, the Haryana government said it has been trying to resolve the issue with the farmers since September 10. A meeting headed by the Chief Minister was also held. A State-level committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary was formed to find a way out of the blockades. A meeting of the Committee scheduled on September 19 was not attended by the farmers' leaders. However, industrialists from Sonipat, the district near the blockade, came to the meeting on their volition and informed the panel about the “myriad difficulties” faced by them due to the blockade.
“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 farmers organisations to cooperate. Regular deliberations are being held by local administrations with farmers organisations from time to time to convince them to remove the blockade as general public is facing great hardship due to such blockades,” the Haryana government said in its affidavit.
In August, the court, however, also conveyed its staunch belief that the solution to end the farmer-government impasse over the three agriculture laws lay with the government.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Monica Agarwal, a Noida resident. She has complained that commuting between Delhi and Noida had become a nightmare due to road blocks because of the farmers' protest.
“The solution lies in the hands of the Union and States. If the protests are on, the traffic should not be stopped in any manner,” the Bench had remarked.
In a recent affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government had also said it had reached out to the farmers about the inconvenience being caused to commuters. It had said that blocking free public movement was illegal.