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Court asks as to why Government should not pay for bandhs and strikes that cause losses




In the recent pasts, the northern states of India have seen agitations and strikes that have caused a huge amount of inconvenience to the general population. The protests by Gujjars, and then by the Jat community, demanding reservations in jobs have seen blockades of roads and trains, stopping the flow of goods and people across many states and national highways. For example, the Jat agitation centered on putting pressure on the Government in Delhi and blocked many of the highways around the national capital, and the protesters squatted on train tracks, preventing movement of trains for many days. And given the political strength of the community and its importance as a vote bank, no Government dared to take any drastic action to ensure that the agitation did not result in inconvenience. Calling rallies and protesting for getting reservation is fine, but stopping the flow of goods and people amounts to acting against the economic interests of the country. The responsibility of the State and the Central Government is to ensure that such acts do not impede the rights of people, but they failed miserably as usual.

The states and the Central Government passed the buck (one remembers the scene from that dramatic movie Nayak, where Amrish Puri refuses to allow action against the striking bus workers because of the political impact of that community), with each blaming the other for the situation. What solved the situation ? It was only when the courts ordered the Governments to stop these blockades that the situation was resolved. In the meantime, hundreds of trains were cancelled, people were heavily inconvenienced, goods stopped moving, some power stations came down to emergency stocks of raw fuel, and so on. It is these same courts that the Government criticizes for interesting in the interests of the Government, but when the Government refuses to take actions, then it is these courts that can solve things.
And it is these courts that are taking the next step. Many of these agitations see politicians getting involved publicly, even though they know they are breaking the law; so a court case threatens to entrap these same politicians with direct responsibility for their actions; one does not know whether such attempts will work, but attempts such as these 2 below are creditable (in one, the court asks whether the state Government will compensate for all the losses suffered by letting such strikes and blockades continue, in the other, a case is filed threatening these politicians with acting against the state / treason by participating in such strikes and blockades (link 1, link 2)

The court passed the order on a writ petition field by one Kashi Purohit. “We brought to the notice of the court that Rajasthan being a state having international border, is required to have great significance from defence point of view and agitations like ‘rail roko’ or ‘road roko’ put a national threat to the country. Even elected representatives, chief ministers, MPs and MLAs support such agitations, and as such they need to be booked for waging war against the country, treason and need to be detained under National Security Act,” said Abhinav Sharma, counsel for the petitioner.
It has further been prayed in the petition that any criminal case once registered against any person found involved in such agitation should not be dropped and further no arms confiscated from such agitating persons should be returned to them in order to buy peace.




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