More than 250 farmer and farm-worker organisations, under the aegis of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), have given a call for the ‘Bharat bandh’.
The nationwide bandh supported by 18 political parties including the Congress has taken to the streets on Friday protesting the farmer bills.
Punjab and Haryana are its focal point where farmers are most likely to be affected after the Bills come to implementation on the ground. Outfits like All India Farmers Union (AIFU), Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM), and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) announced a nationwide bandh. Farmers’ bodies from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have also called for a shutdown.
Delhi police is put on high alert and borders between Delhi and Haryana is likely to be sealed as protesters may march towards the capital city.
Protesting farmer organisations have blocked several national highways, including the Delhi-Amritsar highway, Delhi-Meerut highway, Karnataka-Tamil Naadu highway. Huge traffic jams have also been reported from Ayodhya-Lucknow highway.
Other outfits despite their absence in the protest support their demand for legal guarantee of minimum support prices (MSP), including those affiliated to the right-wing RSS. The protests disrupted rail and road movements in Punjab, Haryana and adjoining areas.
RSS-affiliated farmers’ organizations like Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Swadeshi Jagran Manch are also demanding an amendment to the legislation but they won’t be taking part in the protest today.
Ten central trade unions, including All India Trade Union Congress, National Trades Union Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, All India United Trade Union Centre and Trade Union Coordination Centre have also extended their support.
Congress on Thursday extended support to the call of the Bharat Bandh. Meanwhile, 18 parties, including AAP, Congress, the Left parties, NCP, DMK, SP, Trinamool Congress, RJD, have urged the President to not sign the bills.
In Punjab, chief minister Amarinder Singh urged the farmers to maintain law and order and to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols. No FIR will be registered for the violation of Section 144 during the protest, the CM reassured.
As a result of the bandh, fourteen special passenger trains running from Ferozepur division have been cancelled from September 24 to 26 due to farmer’s three-day rail roko protest. The suspended trains include Golden Temple Mail (Amritsar-Mumbai Central), Jan Shatabdi Express (Haridwar-Amritsar), New Delhi-Jammu Tawi, Sachkhand Express (Nanded-Amritsar), and Shaheed Express (Amritsar-Jaynagar).
The farmers’ organizations have announced that they may go for an indefinite rail blockage from October 1.
In Tamil Nadu, while the ruling AIADMK has lent its support to the bills and after much confusion within party members, the DMK has decided to launch a pan Tamil Nadu agitation on 28 Sept along with Congress.
While TRS and KCR have been bitter in their criticism and labelled the farm bills as “Sugar Coated” pills, the other Telugu speaking state, Aandhra Pradesh came out in support of the bills.
A protest was organised by the communist parties in Hyderabad today. In Karnataka, the protesters blocked the highways and raised slogans against the farm bills.
Restaurants, taxi and auto associations in Bengaluru too expressed solidarity with the farmers and decided not to do business today. The protest was called after the upper house of parliament passed the Farmers` Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill on Sept 20.