Peaceful protests and freedom of speech are fundamental rights of every citizen. However, when these rights infringe upon other basic human rights, they lose their status. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948, there are several other basic rights of a citizen, including the freedom of movement, assembly and of security of life.
The so-called culture of political sit-ins violates a number of basic human rights of citizens. For instance, Article 26 of the UDHR and 25-A of the Constitution promise education. The sit-ins and closures hurt that right, don’t they?
Political parties think that the only way to force their political demands is a sit-in against the government, or a long march even if it happens to be a rather short one. This sit-in culture challenges public rights as well as the writ of the state.
The government, in turn, puts containers on the main highways, choking the point of entry to cities, damaging a number of sectors that are critical parts of the national economy. In fact, violent protests that disrupt the normal activity do not fall under the definition of fundamental rights or freedom of speech.
It is the duty of the government to allow peaceful demonstrations, but when protesters turn violent, or violate the constitutional right to freedom of movement, the law-enforce-ment agencies must tackle them firmly.