Farmer unions write to UNHRC over farmers’ arrest and internet suspension

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Farmers are protesting in India against the government’s three new agriculture laws passed in September. (Image Source: Twitter/ninabhulhr)

Farmer unions through their legal cell wrote to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) on the issues of  farmers’ arrest and internet suspension at the protest sites.

The letter was sent on January 31 and is addressed to the Human Rights Commissioner, United Nations India. The five-page letter was signed by advocates Vasu Kukreja, Ravneet Kaur, and Jaswanthi Anbuselvam.

The letter reads: “That your lordship, as the matter of Human Rights violations, we want your concern towards the situation of farmers in India and in the ongoing agitation. Kindly interfere in the matter and issue guidelines to the state for violating the human rights.” The letter also added that since the start of the protests, “farmers are getting arrested by police from the protest site unreasonably and inappropriately.” 

“That your lordship, the Government has suspended the internet services in the protest sites which has been declared a human right by the united nations and have blocked the access of information ‘to and fro’ the protesting farmers and have denied issuing many other basic rights, disrupting even the survival of the farmers in the protest sites,” read the letter. 

To support their claim, the lawyers pointed out two judgments in the letter – DK Basu vs State of West Bengal (1997) in the Supreme Court that laid out guidelines and rights of arrested persons, and a Kerala High Court decision in the Faheema Shirin vs State of Kerala case that declared the use of the internet as a basic human right. It stated: “The guidelines were prescribed by the Highest Court of the Nation and the Legislative but executive branch of the Government through the police officials are committing a grave error by violating all the said guidelines.” 

Some of the other requests mentioned in the letter are clear identification of the interrogation officers, memo of arrests, information to family members of those arrested, and medical check-ups. 

The UN human rights office on Friday had called on Indian authorities and protesting farmers to exercise maximum restraint while highlighting that it is important to reach “equitable solutions” without any hindrance to human rights for all.

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