After being denied permission to hold a peaceful protest march from Kalol to Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, a group of farmers has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking direction to the state for the rally, and contended that the government’s move has to do with “political considerations” rather than law and order.
The farmers’ group, Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), is protesting against a 2009 government notification that brings 68 villages of Mehsana, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad district under Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). The farmers are citing a number of practical problems that will put their farming in jeopardy.
The issue of the 68 villagers is likely to be raked up during the Assembly polls, especially in Mehsana where the ruling BJP seems to be on a shaky ground owing to the Patidar agitation.
In its petition, the group has stated that the government’s move to deny permission for the rally is in violation of their rights to assemble without weapons and hold peacefu protests.
As part of their protests, the farmers are proposing to hold a vehicle rally from Kalol to Gandhinagar, and culminate with submitting a representation to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The farmers had sought permission from the authorities in Kalol, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad on June 8. However, two of the authorities denied them permission without stating any reasons.
The farmers’ group advocate, Anand Yagnik, said that the government in its reply to the petition cited several grounds for not giving permission, one of the reason was that the farmers have not made the provision of toilets for the rally. Another reason cited by the government is that the rally might create problem of law and order and traffic jams.
The farmers have shown willingness to be flexible with the authorities. They alleged that the state has exercised its power ‘to restrict fundamental rights…for malafide purpose and under colourable exercise of power apparently for political objectives”.
The court is expected to hear the petition on Tuesday.