‘Bharat Band’ underway in protest against farm bills
Several farmers’ unions have come together to express their displeasure at the three far bills passed by the Centre through a Bharat Bandh.
Despite staunch opposition from framers in several states, the Centre passed in rapid succession three bills that will give private players more leeway in the agriculture sector. The prospect of government’s retreat from the sector, that will leave the already vulnerable group of workers and producers even more exposed to vagaries, has brought farmers to the streets in protest. Protests have been particularly intense in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Farmers’ groups from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have also joined protests.
There has been a call for a complete shutdown in Punjab where farmers have organised a three-day ‘rail roko’. Several trains have been cancelled. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has asked protestors to maintain law and order and adhere to social distancing protocols. No FIRs will be registered for violating Section 144 during the protests, he said. There will also be a three-hour ‘chakka jam’ (road block) across all constituencies observed by the Shiromani Akali Dal. In Uttar Pradesh, farmers have been asked to block the roads in and nearby their villages.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM), All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), All India Farmers Union (AIFU) have all thrown their weight behind the bandh. According to one farmers’ union leader, there are over 100 farmers’ groups who are taking part in the protests. Opposition parties and trade unions have also expressed support for the bandh. While several RSS-affiliated farmers’ group have also opposed the bills, they are not expected to be taking part in the bandh. The joint demand is for the president to not sign the bills that will turn them into laws. There has been a heavy deployment of police in order to prevent any untoward incidents. The Delhi-Haryana highway has been sealed to prevent protestors from marching into the city.