This year’s Republic Day is different, COVID-19 is one such reason but the other significant event that the country witnessed was the tractor rally held by the farmer’s at Red Fort in the capital. A “Republic”, as we know it, is a form of government in which a state is governed by the representatives of the citizen body. The essence within this is that, sovereignty rests with the people, who choose the representatives to govern them.
India became “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic” on 26th January 1950. The 72nd republic day of India garner’s no such values which are listed in our preamble. The farmers who have been protesting against the farm laws initiated by the central government at the Delhi NCR borders, planned to carry out a peaceful protest at Red Fort on the occasion of Republic Day. The farmers programmed to enter the capital in a massive tractor march to celebrate the day when the constitution of India came into effect.
The farmer’s march was a depiction of, “we the people”, the people who shape’s the government, who give political power to the ones who govern us, are out on the streets demonstrating their dissent to the policies that are putting them on the margins.
The tractor rallies into the national capital were met with barricades, lathi charge, and tear gas, escalating into clashes at the Red Fort, Kashmere Gate and ITO. This is the first time the farmers who have been protesting at the capital’s borders entered Delhi. The Delhi police’s behavior towards the farmer’s was nothing unexpected, the police sought to remove protestors from the red fort premises, personnel unleashed rounds of lathi charge on them. There was a shocking incident during the protest, wherein one farmer was reportedly killed while driving his tractor. The police reflected to this, that it was an accident and the tractor overturned. The other protesting farmers claim that the person lost control of his vehicle after being shot at. The dead body of the farmer was wrapped in the tricolor and has been kept near the ITO flyover by protestors, who are not letting an ambulance take it away as they allege doctors will “change the reports”.
Meanwhile the mobile internet services have been snapped in large parts of NCR, including Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Nangloi and adjoining areas on the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). In addition to this, several entry and exit points of metro lines along with traffic routes have been shut down. The above mentioned incidents present the horrific picture of India’s democracy today. As citizens we have a right to present our dissent towards state’s policies, we have a right to criticize the government, carry out peaceful protests, raise our voice against the unlawful practices of the state, all this is what Right to Freedom of Speech and Expressions is meant for. The protesting farmers condition is shameful for our democratic ethos, if at all we have any values left now. On one hand we are celebrating republic day, and on the other, the state is using all such harsh measures to silence the voice of “we the people”. Is this being something worth celebrating? What are we celebrating? Does the state truly understand the meaning of a republic? Again, all these questions will remain unanswered in today’s democracy of India. Its high time, the citizens should start pondering their worth in such a democracy.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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