What is freedom? Is lockdown a curtailment of our right to freedom?

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“Freedom” the word freedom means the power or right to act, speak or think as individual wants. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved is called freedom. As human beings, we are free to go anywhere anytime and do our legal activities. We do not have any constraints. Outside of the human realm, freedom generally does not have a political or psychological dimension.

Restrictions are particularly problematic for those who need to move in/out to find safety, but whose elementary freedom to move had been curtailed long before the COVID 19 outbreak. The severe consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted everyday life international travel and many state borders have been closed.

In general, current restrictions are very problematic for people who do not have a home and for whom self-quarantine is hardly any option. For people with disabilities who remain without care and for people mostly women whose home is no haven. But the site of insecurity and domestic abuse. migrants are becoming one of the targets of the most restrictive measures.

Yes, lockdown is curtailment or our right to freedom. The lockdown and other executive measures in India are backed by the epidemic diseases act of 1897 and the disaster management act of 2005. When the Janta curfew was declared barely 4 hours were given to the crores of Indians to arrange their lives and. Livelihood in an orderly manner. the chaotic aftermath of the national lockdown has been evidenced by heartwrenching scenes at the railway stations, interstate bus terminals, state borders, labour markets et when scores of people have been subjected to a period of enforced unemployment while being marooned far away from the sanctuary of their homes.

While orders under Section 144, CrPC restricts collective assembly, can the NDMA direct a "lockdown" which draws the "Lakshman Rekha" at the citizen's door and compels her into virtual imprisonment for 21 days? Is this not a virtual death sentence to the daily wager, the street vendor, the migrant worker, the small trader? Clause (a) and (e) of Article 39 requires the government to take steps to ensure that citizens have a right to adequate means of livelihood, and citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to them. These obligations are among the Directive Principles of State Policy which are considered to be fundamental in the governance of the country. The present lockdown would create conditions that run contrary to these obligations. The choice between COVID-19 and economic death is difficult. The citizen howsoever noble a motive has been left deprived of even her right to chose. Risking inevitable brickbats, I dare say that these were the very difficult choices that required a balancing act – which, according to the leader of one of our neighboring countries, weighed on him in deciding against an enforced shut down.

This imposition of a lockdown has resulted in a virtual abrogation of many of the civil liberties guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution including the right to mobility, right to reside anywhere in India, right to organize, and peaceably assemble, right to carry on any trade, occupation or vocation. It is also vital that the current curtailment of civil liberties is limited to the duration of the present crisis and not a moment beyond that. On the contrary, there is currently a live danger of a "new normal" being created and used by government agencies to expand restrictions of civil liberties and human rights. Continued and widespread surveillance should always be avoided. The patterns by which this particular virus spreads cannot be made a justification for putting in place a surveillance system that will last and be applicable well beyond this time of medical crisis."

This pandemic has allowed Governments all across the globe to make laws, pass ordinances, and orders infringing on democratic and human rights and suspending all avenues of appeal. People are brainwashed to believe that such curtailment is for their good in combating Corona for which no proof is available or visible. Measures like closing businesses, enforcing social distancing, and keeping people off the street, including curfews and bans on gatherings, are needed to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus. But there is a serious risk that these efforts are leading to a new wave of authoritarianism

-Sangeeta Paul

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