Farmers participate in ‘Bharat Bandh’ over farm bills
New Delhi : Farmer unions and political parties across the country are participating in ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Friday to protest against the farm Bills that were recently passed by the Parliament. While Punjab and Haryana continue to witness the most prominent protests, the bandh also saw participation from farmer unions in Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha among several other states. Along with the ‘Bharat Bandh’, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee in Punjab also announced the three-day “rail roko” agitation till September 26 to lodge their protest.
Thirteen pairs of trains were also short-terminated as a precautionary measure. Train routes to Punjab are being avoided. An additional police personnel was deployed in several parts, including the Delhi-Haryana border where members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union blocked roads. Political parties like the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, and several others have criticised the three bills that were passed in Parliament on Sunday. The Shiromani Akali Dal also held a protest in Amritsar on Friday after party leader and Lok Sabha MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet to display her party’s opposition to the three bills.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav lent a hand in Patna by driving a tractor in the protest, saying, “The Farm Bills are against farmers. The government had said that they will double farmers’ income by 2022 but these Bills will make them poorer. The agriculture sector has been corporatised.” Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had earlier announced that Section 144 would not be imposed on farmers while carrying out protests. He appealed to the farmers to strictly maintain law and order, and adhere to all COVID-19 safety protocols while participating in the protests. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had earlier slammed the Modi government over these Bills, also tweeted in support of the bandh saying, “A flawed GST destroyed MSMEs. The new agriculture laws will enslave our farmers,” with the hashtag #ISupportBharatBandh. According to the Centre, these bills will help small and marginal farms by allowing them to sell their produce outside mandis and sign agreements with agri-business firms and doing away with stock-holding limits on key commodities. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 were passed by Parliament on Sunday.