Farmers’ unions have called for ‘Bharat Bandh’ (nationwide shutdown) on September 27 (Monday) against the Centre’s three contentious farm laws. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the farmers’ agitation, has appealed the people from all walks of life to join the protest. Several political parties and state governments have extended their support to the farmers for the nationwide shutdown.
The farmers’ outfit on Sunday appealed for complete peace during the Bandh and urged all Indians to join the strike.
“SKM appeals to every Indian to join this nationwide movement and make the ‘Bharat Bandh’ a resounding success. In particular, we appeal to all organisations of workers, traders, transporters, businessmen, students, youth and women and all social movements to extend solidarity with the farmers that day,” the statement had said. The SKM also urged all political parties and state governments to lend their support to this ‘Bharat Bandh’ and stand with the farmers in their “quest to defend principles of democracy and federalism”.
However, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has urged farmers not to protest and said the government is ready to hold discussions on the issue. “I urge farmers to adopt the path of discussion by leaving the path of protests. Central government is ready to discuss any issues raised by farmers,” he said in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior on Sunday.
WHY FARMERS CALLED FOR ‘BHARAT BANDH’
Farmers from different parts of the country, especially Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi borders since November last year, demanding the repeal of the three contentious farm laws that they fear would do away with the Minimum Support Price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government, however, has been projecting the three laws as major agricultural reforms. Over 10 rounds of talks between the two parties have failed to break the deadlock.
TIMINGS FOR ‘BHARAT BANDH’ AND WHAT TO REMAIN CLOSED
The bandh will be held from 6am to 4pm on Monday during which all government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments as well as public events and functions will be closed throughout the country.
SERVICES EXEMPTED FROM SHUTDOWN
All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies will be exempted. “Needless to emphasise, the bandh will be enforced in a voluntary and peaceful manner,” the SKM had said in a statement.
POLITICAL PARTIES/STATE GOVTS SUPPORTING ‘BHARAT BANDH’
• The ruling DMK has appealed to the people, farmers, farm workers and traders to take part in the nationwide strike and urged its functionaries as well to make the ‘Bharat Bandh’ a success in Tamil Nadu. The party stood with farmers protesting -in Delhi and other places- against the farm laws, DMK’s state agriculture wing chief NKK Periyasamy had said, adding, the Centre was however autocratic and does not pay heed to them.
• The Left parties on Friday appealed to the people to support the ‘Bharat Bandh’. In a joint statement, the CPI, CPI(M), All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) said the “historic” farmers’ struggle demanding the repeal of the agri-laws and a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price is in its 10th month, and urged people to come out in support of their cause.
• The Congress has also extended support to the Bharat Bandh and demanded that discussions be initiated with the protesters. Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the Congress party and all its workers will support the “peaceful Bharat Bandh on September 27, called by farmer unions and farmers”. Moreover, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu also extended support and said PCC “firmly stands by farmer unions demand for Bharat Bandh”.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee firmly stands by Farmer Unions demand for Bharat Bandh on 27 Sept 2021. In the war of right and wrong you can not afford to be neutral !! We urge every Congress worker to fight with all their might against the three Unconstitutional Black Laws !!
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 26, 2021
• The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) strongly supports the call for a Bharat Bandh, party leader Raghav Chadha said, adding that AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has always stood by the farmers against the “black laws”. “The Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal have always stood by the farmers against black laws. AAP strongly supports the call for a Bharat Bandh issued by the United Kisan Morcha on September 27,” Chadha tweeted.
• The Andhra Pradesh government has declared full support to the Bharat Bandh, state Information and Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said. He said the Andhra Pradesh government, including the YSR Congress, will support the concerns of farmers. Nani told reporters that the state government has decided to stop APSRTC buses across the state from September 26 midnight to September 27 afternoon.
• In Kerala, shops and establishments would remain shut. Essential services like milk booths and medical shops will, however, function. Both ruling LDF and the opposition UDF have backed the Bharat Bandh and the state has already announced that all university examinations scheduled for Monday would be postponed. Public transport including buses, taxis, and auto-rickshaws will be off the road, but private vehicles can apply.
SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS BY STATES
• The Delhi Police has intensified patrolling and deployed extra personnel at pickets in border areas of national capital ahead of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by farmer unions on September 27, officials said on Sunday. Patrolling has been intensified, extra personnel have been deployed at the pickets especially across the border areas and every vehicle entering the national capital is being thoroughly checked, according to the police.
A senior police officer said in view of bandh, adequate security arrangements will be made to maintain the law an order situation in the national capital on Monday. No protestor will be allowed to enter Delhi from the three protest sites at the city’s borders, the official said.
• Elaborate arrangements have been made to maintain peace and order, the Haryana Police said on Sunday. In an advisory, police also stated that people could face traffic disruptions on various roads and highways of the state due to the ‘bandh’ on Monday. “The primary objective of these arrangements is to maintain public peace and order, prevent any kind of violence and to facilitate the functioning of traffic and public transport systems across the state,” a Haryana police spokesperson said.
• The Karnataka government has put in place elaborate security measures to ensure that there is no untoward incident or disturbance to daily activities, during the ‘Bharat Bandh’. “Police have been instructed to take all the necessary precautionary measures to maintain peace and order in the wake of Bharat Bandh tomorrow,” Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said in a statement. Directions have been given to maintain a special vigil to see to it that no untoward incidents take place in Bengaluru city, district centres and all sensitive areas in the state, he said. Farmer organisations have planned Rasta Roko’ on major national and state highways during the dawn to dusk bandh on Monday.
Besides these, the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) has also extended its support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’. The AIBOC requested the central government to reopen dialogue with the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on their demands and rescind the three contentious farm laws. “AIBOC affiliates and state units will join in solidarity with the protest actions of the farmers all over the country on Monday,” the union said in a statement.
(with inputs from PTI)