By Krishna Jha
Demanding repeal of three farm laws, guarantee for the purchase of the crops, and also minimum support price, the farmers are sitting on dharna on the borders of Delhi for last almost 140 days, and have initiated the ‘Mitti Satyagraha’ commemorating the famous Dandi March that had culminated on April 6, 1930. Farmers and agri workers from all over the country with soil from their villages were received at the Singhu border by women with pitchers filled with soil. Soil was brought from at least 1500 villages from Gujarat alone as also from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar and many other states.
On average, fifty farmers from each state came to join the occasion. The ‘Mitti Satyagraha’, unleashed in two phases, first from March 12-28, and second, with kisans and workers’ joint agitation in an irregular spread all over the country, has turned into a massive protest. The soil, as salt in Dandi March, has become a symbol of national integration, and collected thus would be in the foundation of the Martyrs’ column, in memory of 350 farmers, who had lost their lives during the agitation at Delhi borders.
Dandi March, a symbol of unwavering conviction in the cause, has been known for its fearlessness and non-violence, ingrained in each of the Satyagrahi and there, it touched the culmination. At fistful of salt, the entire country responded as one.
On April 6, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi arrived at the sea shore in Dandi. As the sun was rising, he took a dip in the sea, collected a fistful of salt from the vessel and raised his hand with clutched fist…”Hail the Deliverer” shouted poetess and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. The act was simple, almost negligible, but impact was that of an explosion. The country was simmering, yet without a single aggressive act. Everywhere people were engaged in making salt and selling it in defiance of the colonial government that was forcing them to purchase salt only from the British monopolies.
The measures of preventive detention and imprisonment without trial or judicial review has come alive today again when the skeletons are tumbling out from the dungeons of abused NSA (National Security Act) at the call of the Allahabad high court that has quashed 94 cases out of 120 in Uttar Pradesh alone. In these cases each one incarcerated is from the minority community, and their crimes are labelled as cow slaughter, political acts, communal incidents and other such objectionable activities.
Between January 2018 and December 2020, the Allahabad High Court ruled in 120 habeas corpus petitions challenging preventive detention under the NSA.
According to the records, on cow slaughter, which is category number one when it comes to invoking NSA: it accounts for 41 cases, more than a third of the total that reached the High Court. All the accused are from the minority community and were detained by the district magistrate based on FIRs alleging cow slaughter.
More than 70 percent, at least thirty of the cases the High Court came down heavily on the UP administration: it quashed the NSA order and called for the release of the petitioner.
In the rest of the eleven cases, all cow slaughter, where it upheld detention, except in one, the lower court and the High Court subsequently granted bail to the accused making it clear that their judicial custody was not required.
In as many as 11 detentions, the court cited “non-application of mind” by the DM while passing the order. In 13 detentions, the court said the detained person was denied the opportunity to represent himself effectively while challenging the NSA. In seven detentions, the court noted that these cases came under the ambit of “law and order” and there was no need to invoke the NSA.
In six detentions, the court flagged that NSA was invoked on the basis of a solitary case — and that the accused had no criminal antecedents.
The 41 rulings on the cases related to alleged cow slaughter were delivered by ten two-judge benches of the Allahabad High Court, involving a total of 16 judges.
When a national daily sent a questionnaire seeking the state government’s response to whether there has been a review of NSA orders issued by DMs that were quashed by the High Court and if any corrective action has been taken, there was no response.
We are no more under colonial forces. We have a Constitution. And finally we have a history, that helps us to move ahead! (IPA Service)