As the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s farm laws completes four months, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a front of protesting farmer unions, has called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Friday. Hundreds of farmers are camping near Delhi’s borders since November last year demanding that the Centre repeal the three new farm laws. Enacted in September 2020, the farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
The protesting farmers, on the other hand, have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the minimum support price and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Appealing for support on March 26, the Bhartiya Kisan Morcha tweeted, “In order to make Bharat Bandh successful, all District President, the Block President / Tehsil President and top officials should coordinate to ensure that the bandh is made successful.” As the farmers call for the ‘Bharat Bandh’ tomorrow, here’s a list of what will be affected by the strike:
- On March 26, from 6 am to 6 pm, all road and rail transport, markets and other public places will be closed across the country, a statement released by the SKM said.
- The ‘Bharat Bandh’ call is not necessary for the places where elections are going to be held, the statement said.
- Participation in the countrywide ‘Bharat Bandh’ call given by the farmers’ unions on March 26 against the three farm laws would be optional for the traders, as discussed in a meeting, held at the collectorate and chaired by ADM (City) Shailendra Kumar Singh on Wednesday.
- General Secretary of Mahanagar Vyapar Mandal Ashok Chawla said that the association would remain neutral during the ‘Bharat Bandh’. No association would force anybody to close their shops or compel them to keep it open as traders are free to take decisions on their own, he said.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said the farmers’ agitation will continue till the time the Centres rolls back the farm laws and provides legal guarantee on MSP. Referring to cases registered against many farmers in the aftermath of incidents on January 26 in Delhi, Tikait said, “Farmers are not scared of cases. This agitation will continue so long the Centre does not withdraw these laws and till the time a law is framed giving legal guarantee on MSP.”
“This agitation will go till November-December,” he said, while making it clear that the government should not be mistaken that farmers were going anywhere.
This is the second call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ by the farmers after a nation-wide strike on Decemeber 8, which was observed in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Assam. The previous bandh call found support among several trade unions and political parties, including Congress and NCP.
This time too, the call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ is receiving support from oppositon political parties. Congress MP Digvijaya Singh tweeted in support of the protesting farmers saying, “We support the call for Bharat Bandh on 26th March against the three Anti-Farmers Bill.” The CPI(M) in Andhra Pradesh also extended its support to the farmers for the countrywide strike.
(With inputs from PTI)