- Farmer groups have called in for reinforcements
- Farmers' leaders urged more protesters to join the movement
- Supreme Court will hear the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case today
Farmer groups protesting the new central laws near Delhi have called in for reinforcements ahead of a key Supreme Court hearing this week that may mean the end of their year-long blockade.
Farmers' leaders urged more protesters to join the movement at the borders of Delhi from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had said it would examine this Thursday if the right to protest was absolute and also go into whether farmers have the right to take to the streets when the issue at the core of their protest - the three new farm laws - is in court.
The court sharply questioned the sit-in in the wake of the death of eight people, including four farmers, in violent protests in Uttar Pradesh on October 3.
The central government argued that there can be "no further farmer protests" as incidents like Lakhimpur Kheri could not be allowed.
The Supreme Court was responding to a petition by a farmers' group that wants to stage a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. The central government, while opposing it, referred to the UP violence.
"The events that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri yesterday... Eight died. Protests cannot happen like this," said Attorney General KK Venugopal, adding, "My lordship, please say that when laws are already being dealt with, then protests cannot go on. It leads to unfortunate incidents."
The Supreme Court responded: "When such events happen nobody takes responsibility. Loss of lives and property. Nobody takes responsibility."
A Rajasthan-based farmers' group has approached the Supreme Court for permission to launch a "Satyagraha" with 200 farmers at Jantar Mantar. The court had earlier lashed out at protest groups for "strangulating the city" and had asked the petitioner to file an affidavit stating that they are not part of the groups blocking the highways.
The Supreme Court objected to petitioners filing a plea in the Rajasthan High Court against farm laws and also demanding permission to protest at Jantar Mantar.
"When you have already challenged the law you can't be allowed to protest? You can't come to court and then also protest outside? If the matter is already sub-judice protests cannot be allowed," the court said.
"When the government has already said that it's not implementing the laws yet and there is a stay on it from the Supreme Court, then why are you protesting?" Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar asked.