New Delhi September 25th
Farmers’ unions across several states, including, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are taking part in a “Bharat Bandh” today to protest the farm bills cleared by Parliament last week amid pandemonium inside and fierce agitations outside. The protesting farmers have warned the government that their agitations will intensify unless the bills are repealed.
Amid increased security in several states, the farmers have been supported by several opposition parties, including the Congress, the DMK, the AAP, the RJD and the Trinamool Congress, and at least 10 central trade unions.
The government says the bills – passed amid what the opposition called “murder of democracy” – will help farmers get better prices for their produce by allowing them to sell at markets and prices of their choosing. Farmers, however, fear the loss of the price support system (MSP) and the entry of private players.
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. The visuals show at least four or five other tractors behind Mr Yadav as the entire chain inches its way forward.
A “complete shutdown” of Punjab has been called for by the 31 farmers’ groups that are protesting in the state under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) banner. Additional police personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order, officials said. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said that the Congress-led state government supports the farmers and no FIRs will be registered for violation prohibitory orders barring assembly of more than four people.
The Punjab-Haryana border has been sealed near Ambala – a key border crossing between the two states. Police barricades have also been set up at the NH-1 toll plaza in Ludhiana and police in Chandigarh are on high alert.
Farmers groups have also begun protesting along the Fardikot-Kotkapura highway. Farmers have also blocked the Delhi-Meerut highway to protest against the farm bills.
On Thursday farmers started a three-day rail blockade and squatted on tracks at several places in the state, including Amritsar and Firozpur districts.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, speaking against the farm bills, said that MSP will be taken away from farmers. “They will be forced to become slaves of trillions through contract farming. Farmers will neither get the price nor the honor. It will become laborer on his own land. We won’t let this injustice happen.”