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Lawyers gather at borders, courts to provide free legal aid to protesting farmers

Lawyers gather at borders, courts to provide free legal aid to protesting farmers

New Delhi: As protesting, farmers face grave legal challenges after the Republic Day violence, scores of lawyers from the neighbouring states have now stationed themselves at the borders, courts and jails of Delhi to offer free legal assistance to them, reported IANS.

On January 26, chaos had erupted between the protesting farmers and the police during the tractor rally against the Centre's three farm laws. During the clash, a section of protesters had entered the national capital and hoisted a religious flag at the ramparts of Red Fort. Following this, the police have so far arrested over 120 people in connection with the Republic Day violence.

According to IANS, about 160 lawyers, under the banner of 'Advocates for Farmers', have split into 11 teams to carry out various tasks such as entering data of the arrested and missing protesters, drafting, figuring out where they are jailed to filing their bail applications.

Few of the lawyers have set up their tents at three borders -- Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri -- and are contacting the families of those arrested or missing by wading from trolly to trolly. Besides this, the lawyers have also set up toll-free numbers to address the farmers' grievances.

Advocates Ajit Pal Singh Mander and Hakam Singh are heading the teams and carrying out the coordination among them. "Data is collected by three teams at the border and execution is carried out by eight teams at different courts in the city," Mander, from Punjab's Bathinda district said.

The advocate added that five protesters have been let out on bail so far, while the petitions of three others are coming up for hearing at the Dwarka court on Monday. "Today we found out that 22 more people are missing since the republic day violence out of which we have found that eight are lodged in jail," he said.

"We collect data as to who is missing or who has been arrested since Republic Day by going from tractor to tractor, and based on the information, we inform our teams at Tihar jail," a 29-year-old lawyer explained how legal aid is being provided to the farmers.

Advocate Gaurav Kaushal went on to say, "From there, the team attests the power of attorney and gives it to the teams working in various courts. Another team then drafts the bail applications and also argues the matter."

He, however, rued the internet issue, due to which the lawyers have to travel to Delhi to hand over the documents to the other teams. The team also alleged that Delhi Police is not cooperating with them in getting the details.

Another lawyer, Tanya Tabassum, said that the team covers the 15 km stretch on Singhu border in a day to find out information about the farmers.

At Ghazipur, Bharat Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has set up a tent for lawyers beneath the flyover to help the families find missing children and bail out those who have been arrested.

"We are doing it pro-bono," said 26-year-old Vasu Kukreja, from Amritsar.

Besides providing legal assistance, the lawyers also educate the protesting farmers about their rights in case they get arrested in future and clarify their doubts on the three contentious farm laws, Kukreja said.

"Today, while going from trolly to trolly, we found out that 25 men belonging to Haridwar are missing since that day. We will try to find them. Besides this, we are trying to huddle in more lawyers because the farmer to lawyer ratio is currently very low," he added.

However, the Central government on Wednesday had informed the Delhi High Court that 'substantial' steps have been taken against the perpetrators in connection with the republic day violence.

"We are invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in some of the FIRs, including those in which the banned entity 'Sikhs for Justice' is involved," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said.

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