Citizens have the right to protest against the government to the extent that such protests do not entail breaking any law of the land. Real-world protests are however not so ideal and picture perfect as we have seen whether in Shaheen Bagh or the farmers’ protests.
In fact, the farmers’ protests further degenerated into the worst anti-national act of the breaching of the Red Fort on Republic Day this year and the Shaheen Bagh protest ultimately culminated in the deadly anti-Hindu Delhi riots. In both protests, the government chose self-restraint and cops were instructed to use minimum force, that too as and when it was inevitable. Despite this, the Left leaning ecosystem worldwide continued to criticize Bharat’s government on free speech.
Refusing to respect the recent farmers’ protests as an internal issue of Bharat, the UK Parliament, in response to an e-petition on freedom of speech and safety of farmer protestors, held a 90 minute debate on the subject on March 8, 2021, which, a day later, Bharat’s High Commission in London condemned.
Ironically, in the same month that UK chose to worry about protests in Bharat, it faced large-scale protests which began with the disappearance of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard on the night of March 3, 2021.
On March 9, a police constable was arrested for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard. The involvement of a police constable was the possible trigger and led to a massive protest by citizens who were concerned by the violent crimes that women face. Protestors accused the law-enforcement system of misogyny and claimed that police were not the solution but rather the cause of such racist and sexist crimes. The response by the UK police tothe initial protests was said to be heavy handed. Police were said to have “scuffled with mourners and dragged women away in handcuffs.”
Further, the same UK lawmaking body that chose to preach to Bharat on the safety of protesting farmers and free speech by debating on the topic for 90 minutes has now allowed a new policing bill which is likely to curtail the right of citizens to protest!
A week ago, in response to this new proposed law, further protests have been triggered with “Kill the Bill” protestors rallying in 25 cities across England and Wales. Opponents of the bill call it a step towards authoritarianism. In fact, one critic has said that the proposed Bill makes UK like Putin’s Russia! The proposed bill is said to give sweeping powers to the police in UK.
Whether the proposed Bill actually becomes a law remains to be seen, but it does highlight that sometimes instant karma can strike in matters of governance as well. But more seriously, even after leaving the countries they once colonized and looted, colonial powers continue to harbour the belief that they have the right to interfere in the governance of sovereign democratic nations.
UK’s Parliament took it upon itself to debate on an internal matter of Bharat, even when Bharat’s current government has been handling protests with maximum patience and self-restraint. More importantly, the farmers’ protests are in fact trying to undo valuable and much needed policies that will help marginal and small farmers. Only recently, Australian academic Salvatore Babones lauded Bharat’s farm reforms saying that those protesting are the politically powerful rich farmers mostly from Punjab and Haryana who are “heavily subsidized” and farm reforms will upset traditional hierarchies.
(Featured image source: CNN)
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