Tens of thousands of farmers protesting new agricultural laws on the outskirts of India’s national capital, New Delhi, must be removed because they are blocking the travel of ambulances and other emergency medical services, a petition filed in India’s Supreme Court argued on Friday.
The protests, which have been ongoing since November 25, “are blocking roads to hamper emergency/medical services,” New Delhi resident Rishab Sharma stated in his petition, according to the Times of India.
“The farmers’ protests … on Wednesday led to the shutting down of key roads connecting Noida and Delhi,” India’s NDTV reported. Noida is a city bordering Delhi, India’s National Capital Territory (NCT), which contains New Delhi.
Sharma said on Friday that people traveling from different states across India to the national capital for treatment in New Delhi’s government hospitals were especially at risk because of the road closures.
“That the persons affected by such irresponsible acts of the protesters, and the state not in a position to remove these protesters as they are huge in number and this protest is causing a lot of trouble to the citizens of India, hence the petitioner is filing the present PIL [public interest litigation] before this court [sic],” Sharma’s petition read.
“The plea has asked for the immediate removal or shifting of the protesting farmers, saying even though the police offered them … ground [on which to gather] in Burari on the city’s northern fringe, demonstrations are still being held at the borders,” India’s NDTV reported on Friday. The petition quotes an Indian Supreme Court judgment from October ruling that “public places cannot be occupied by protesters and there must be a specific place for sit-in demonstrations.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on roads leading to New Delhi over the past week to protest three new agricultural laws recently passed by the Indian Congress.
“The farmers, who form a powerful political constituency, fear the laws passed in September could pave the way for the government to stop buying grains at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of private buyers,” according to NDTV.
“Farm groups say the government is trying to end a decades-old policy of providing them with an assured minimum price for producing staples, such as wheat and rice,” the news outlet added.
Sharma’s petition on Friday also argued that the farmers’ massive gathering on the outskirts of the national capital was a potential coronavirus super spreader event.
“The life of lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of people protesting at Delhi Borders is at immediate threat since the virus is very contagious and if by chance this coronavirus disease takes the shape of community spread, it will cause a havoc in the country [sic],” the plea stated.