Protests were held across the country today after the nationwide ‘Bharat Bandh’ call by farmer organisations against the Farm Bills. The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.

Farmer organisations and political parties are demanding that the Bills be withdrawn or sent to the Standing Committee for scrutiny and have urged the President not to give his assent to the Bills, as they seek to serve “corporate interests” rather than farmers’, as these also threaten to do away with the Minimum Support Price (MSP) cushion to farmers. Congress has even asked for a separate Bill to ensure MSP as a legal right.

According to the new rules, any company, firm, registered society, farmer-producer organisation, or cooperative society is free to purchase crops or produce from farmers, outside the mandis (markets). Farmers fear that once the law is passed corporate sharks will start to control the price of their commodities and they will be cheated by the big players. Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is aimed at deregulating commodities such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes. The bills also promote contract farming. Farmers fear that they will become contract farmers in their own land, at a price fixed by the corporates.

Protests have been going on in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra among others much before the Bills were introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

New Delhi: Over 265 farmers’ groups took to the streets today to block roads and carry out rallies and marches in a nationwide agitation against the controversial farm bills. The protests will intensify, the farmers said, unless the bills are repealed. Opposition parties like the Congress, the RJD and the Trinamool, as well as 10 central trade unions, have voiced their support for the farmers. Faced with the protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed the farm bills as “historic” and hit out at the opposition for misleading the farmers. The government has said the bills will help farmers get better prices by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice. Farmers, however, fear the loss of the price support system (MSP) and the entry of private players who, they say, will put small and marginal farmers at risk.

  1. “More than 265 farmers’ groups affiliated with the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) took part in protests today. Additionally, around 100 non-affiliated groups also participated. I have received inputs from organising secretaries that protests were held at around 20,000 spots nationwide,” Avik Saha, the AIKSCC General Secretary, told NDTV.
  2. In Punjab, a “complete shutdown” was called for by 31 farmers’ groups protesting under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) banner. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh earlier said the Congress-led state government supports the farmers and no FIRs will be registered for violation of prohibitory orders. Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned as Union Minister last week, joined protests in her constituency of Bathinda. The Akalis – long-time BJP allies – are said to be considering their ties with the ruling NDA. Apart from political leaders, Punjabi singers and actors also sat in on the protests. Sidhu Moosewala, a singer, said: “We will not stop our fight here. It will continue”.
  3. As angry farmers occupied highways and shut down all non-essential traffic – the Punjab-Haryana border was sealed near Ambala – a key border crossing. The Delhi-Amritsar highway was blocked at several places by farmers from the BKU and the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India. Several of the farmers’ protests were noteworthy in that they refused to allow politicians to sit in with them. They criticised parties for only caring about votes – polls are due in Punjab next year and the Akalis count farmers as their key constituency. 
  4. The “rail roko” that began in Amritsar and Ferozepur districts yesterday continued today and has been extended till Tuesday (September 29). In addition, to the above two districts, tracks will be blocked in Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Jalalabad, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti said Friday evening. The group also hit out at BJP workers spreading “rumours” that the protesting farmers would engage in violence.
  5. Farmers also gathered in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida (which borders national capital Delhi), prompting deployment of police in riot gear to keep them from crossing the border. Around 200 farmers were stopped in Noida’s Sector 14A. After protesting for over three hours, they dispersed. In parts of UP, escalating protests led to the Ayodhya-Lucknow highway being blocked. Farmers also blocked the Delhi-Meerut highway in Modinagar near Ghaziabad. Farmers from the state’s Kheri district have also gathered in protest.
  6. In poll-bound Bihar, opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav took part in a tractor rally to protest the farm bills. In visuals shared by news agency ANI, the RJD chief can be seen slowly driving a blue tractor down a main road in Patna as a large crowd of farmers, marshalled by armed policemen, march alongside.
  7. In Bengal farmers’ groups affiliated to Left parties took out rallies in some districts and blocked roads for some time. There were protests in the rural belts of Hooghly, Murshidabad, North 24 Parganas, Bankura and Nadia districts, among others. Some carried agricultural produce and shouted slogans against the PM and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Farmers’ groups linked to the ruling Trinamool Congress also protested; some farmers burned copies of the bill and effigies of Prime Minister Modi.
  8. Members of the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association protested on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu highway. Around 250 were taken into preventive custody at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru. A group of farmers met with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa but failed to reach an understanding. A statewide protest called for on Monday will go ahead as planned. In Tamil Nadu, farmers from the National South Indian River Interlinking Farmers’ Association protested in Trichy with human skulls, chained hands and nooses tied around their necks.
  9. Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi both, of whom have been active in the criticism of the bills, tweeted again today. Mrs Gandhi Vadra said: “They (the farmers) will be forced to become slaves of trillions through contract farming.” Mr Gandhi said: “… The new agriculture laws will enslave our farmers”.

Several farmer organisations have joined hands and are gearing up to make ‘Bharat Bandh’ a success, Apart from AIKCC, which is an umbrella of over 250 organisations, the others joining in include Bharatiya Kisan Union, All India Farmers Union, All India Kisan Mahasangh and others.

Opposition parties like the Congress, the RJD and the Trinamool, as well as 10 central trade unions, have voiced their support for the farmers. Faced with the protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed the farm bills as “historic” and hit out at the opposition for misleading the farmers. The government has said the bills will help farmers get better prices by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice. Farmers, however, fear the loss of the price support system (MSP) and the entry of private players who, they say, will put small and marginal farmers at risk.

In Punjab, a “complete shutdown” was called for by 31 farmers’ groups protesting under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) banner. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh earlier said the Congress-led state government supports the farmers and no FIRs will be registered for violation of prohibitory orders. Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who resigned as Union Minister last week, joined protests in her constituency of Bathinda. The Akalis – long-time BJP allies – are said to be considering their ties with the ruling NDA. Apart from political leaders, Punjabi singers and actors also sat in on the protests. Sidhu Moosewala, a singer, said: “We will not stop our fight here. It will continue”.

As angry farmers occupied highways and shut down all non-essential traffic – the Punjab-Haryana border was sealed near Ambala – a key border crossing. The Delhi-Amritsar highway was blocked at several places by farmers from the BKU and the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India. Several of the farmers’ protests were noteworthy in that they refused to allow politicians to sit in with them. They criticised parties for only caring about votes – polls are due in Punjab next year and the Akalis count farmers as their key constituency.

The “rail roko” that began in Amritsar and Ferozepur districts yesterday continued today and has been extended till Tuesday (September 29). In addition, to the above two districts, tracks will be blocked in Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Jalalabad, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti said Friday evening. The group also hit out at BJP workers spreading “rumours” that the protesting farmers would engage in violence.

In Bengal farmers’ groups affiliated to Left parties took out rallies in some districts and blocked roads for some time. There were protests in the rural belts of Hooghly, Murshidabad, North 24 Parganas, Bankura and Nadia districts, among others. Some carried agricultural produce and shouted slogans against the PM and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Farmers’ groups linked to the ruling Trinamool Congress also protested; some farmers burned copies of the bill and effigies of Prime Minister Modi.

Members of the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association protested on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu highway. Around 250 were taken into preventive custody at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru. A group of farmers met with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa but failed to reach an understanding. A statewide protest called for on Monday will go ahead as planned. In Tamil Nadu, farmers from the National South Indian River Interlinking Farmers’ Association protested in Trichy with human skulls, chained hands and nooses tied around their necks.

In Tamil Nadu farmers protested with the skulls of farmers who committed suicide.

Protests were held across Kerala too.

Related posts