New Delhi, January 5: The Supreme Court will hear a petition that was originally an open letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India against attempts at painting protesting farmers as separatists as talks between farmers’ unions and the Centre continue.

The open letter, written by 35 students of the Panjab University’s Centre for Human Rights and Duties on December 2, was converted into a public interest litigation after it termed the course of action taken by the government to address the farmers’ concerns as “insensitive”, The Week reported.

It sought intervention of the apex court to allow them to continue with their peaceful protest, and that basic amenities be provided to farmers for their safety. As Delhi grappled with the biting cold weather conditions, water cannons were used against protesters, as well as teargas shells.

The 35 signatories, comprising human rights students, research scholars, and former students of the university demanded an enquiry into the use of force by Haryana Police and withdrawal of all criminal cases registered against the protesting farmers.

The letter also lambasted the media for labelling the protesting farmers as separatists.

Last month, the Supreme Court had proposed that the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders negotiate with the government through their farmer unions and involve independent experts. It did not intend to curb the farmers’ right to protest peacefully but the same should not be at the cost of disruption of public order, the apex court had said.

Meanwhile, the seventh round of talks between farmers union and the Centre have also failed as farmers insisted on the repeal of the three contentious farm laws right. 

The next round of talks will take place on January 8.

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