Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, addressing a press conference in the state capital, said on Monday that the amendment to the APMC Act and Land Improvement Act would not be a problem for the farmers. His statement comes as a statewide bandh, which was called by over 108 organisations against the Centre and the state’s recent farm-related laws, gained momentum.
There has been a good response to the bandh in at least 25 of total 30 districts in Karnataka. Farmers have hit the roads in Hubli, Dharwad, Bijapur, Haveri, Gadag, Bagalkote and other important towns and cities. The dawn-to-dusk bandh call has been supported by several pro-Kannada and other outfits besides the opposition Congress and the JD(S), who had opposed the amendment bills in the assembly. Some of the Congress and JD(S) workers were reported to have been detained in Kodagu.
A state-wide bandh was observed in Karnataka by various farmers' organisations, protesting the amendments to the APMC and land reforms acts made by the BS Yediyurappa government.
It is also backed by several labour organisations who are protesting against amendments to certain labour laws during the brief assembly session that concluded on Saturday. Warning of stern action against any forcible enforcement of the bandh, the state government had said it would take all necessary steps to ensure that there was no disruption to the normal functioning of its offices, hospitals, shops and establishments and maintaining services of taxis and buses.
It has defended the bills, saying the measures had been brought with an intention to give freedom to the farmers for selling their produce in any part of the state or country. Police said they have made elaborate security measures to see to that no untoward incident occurred.
In Bengaluru, a protest march was planned from Town Hall to Mysore Bank Circle against the "anti farmer" legislations. With some goods transporters, taxi and auto rickshaw drivers announcing their support to the bandh, their services were hit in some places. However, state owned public transport bus and metro services were functioning normally.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday asserted his government was pro-farmers and sought to brush aside the bandh, saying there was no 'scope' for the agitation. Assuring that the people can carry on with their day-to-day activities normally without any fear, Revenue Minister R Ashoka warned against any move to forcefully enforce the bandh or indulge in incidents like stone pelting.
Government offices, banks, post offices were open, along with all essential services and supplies. City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said "we have not given permission for any protests to anyone and senior officials have been deployed to supervise things. We will not allow anyone to forcefully shut down or halt activities," he said warning of strict action as per law if there was any violation.
Action would also be taken under the Disaster Management Act due to Covid-19 pandemic, he said adding that civil police will be also deployed besides regular personnel. Despite the stiff opposition from the opposition parties, especially Congress, the Yediyurappa administration was successful in getting the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Bill and the Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Bill passed in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday.
While the amendments to land reform act liberalises farmland ownership, the APMC amendment bill curtails the powers of local Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees(APMC) and allows private individuals to start agricultural trading, if they hold a permanent account number (PAN).