SC fumes over agitationists ''browbeating'' govts

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) The Supreme Court today tookstrong exception to growing incidents of protestors andagitationists using "strong-arm tactics to browbeatgovernments" by blocking rail and road traffic.

The court said it cannot remain a "mute spectator" togroups using muscle power for taking the country to ransom andwarned them of drastic steps for violating the rule of law.

The strong remarks were made by a bench comprisingJustices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly which was hearing apetition relating to the killings of Dalits in Mirchpurvillage of Hissar district in Haryana.

It was expressing its displeasure against members of the''khap'' (community) panchayats, which during their protestagainst the booking of some upper caste people in the MirchpurDalit killings case, had disrupted rail and road trafficcausing huge loss to the exchequer.

"One group of people, who are having muscles cannot putpeople of the country to ransom. People have a right totransport," the bench said asking the Railways and the Haryanagovernment to assess their financial losses due to thedisruption in rail and road traffic during the 11-day stirorganised by 12 khap panchayats.

The bench directed the Northern Railway General Managerto instruct senior officials to file an affidavit quantifyingthe loss suffered by the Railways.

It also asked the Haryana government to evaluate andapprise the court about the loss suffered by the stateexchequer and steps taken by it for free flow of road traffic.

The bench also issued notices to the Centre and the stategovernment and sought their responses within two weeks.

While dealing with the matter, the bench also spokeabout the recent agitation by the Gujjar community inRajasthan which paralysed the rail and road traffic.

"In the last few years, we have been witnessing, for30-40 days trains are being stopped in Rajasthan. Thousands ofpassengers were prevented from using the railway service.

Governments behave as if they were subservient to theagitators, as if there was no government at all. If thesereports are correct, You have to explain," the bench said.

"Unless situation improves, we have to take very drasticsteps. Court cannot tolerate these persistent attitude of anycommunity for destroying the absolute right of life of othercommunities. Please mark our words," the bench said. MORE PTIRKS AAC RB ABA RAX

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