Pro-farmer organisations backed by a number of other social and political outfits on Monday staged protests across Karnataka over amendments to Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act and land reform acts amid a statewide bandh.
Farmers, labourers, pro-Kannada activists, and Dalit organisations hit the streets in support of the bandh while thousands of farmers gathered at Mysuru Bank circle and in front of Town Hall in Bengaluru, throwing traffic haywire.
Several Congress and JD(S) workers who gathered at Myuru Bank circle were detained and taken in BMTC buses to City Armed Reserve (CAR) headquarters and KSRP Parade Ground in Madiwala. Follow LIVE Updates
The dawn-to-dusk bandh call has been supported by several pro-Kannada and other outfits along with opposition Congress and the JD(S), which had also opposed the contentious farm bills in the Assembly. The bandh has been also backed by several labour organisations who have objected to certain amendments to labour laws.
Activists of pro-Kannada organisation ‘Karnataka Rakshna Vedike’ barged inside Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport to mark their protest. Police also detained some members of the outfit near Kranthiveera Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station in Bengaluru.
The police have set up checkpoints in all the main roads and highways to stop protesters entering inside the city. The Bengaluru police requested those taking flights to cooperate with police checkpoints en route airport. While auto-rickshaws and private cab services in the city were unavailable, limited shops and other commercial establishments opened their shutters in Bengaluru.
CK Baba, Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East Division, Bengaluru City, said, “Air travellers requested to cooperate with police checkpoints en route airport. Please avoid accompanying people to drop passengers. Only passengers with valid ticket or boarding pass are being allowed in the airport today.”
Police have also beefed up security across the state. “We have not permitted any protests in the city. We have deployed 12,000 civil police, 47 KSRP, 24 CAR platoons in Bengaluru. Senior police officials have been deployed to supervise across the city,” Bengaluru City Commissioner Kamal Pant said.
Meanwhile, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and Congress state chief DK Shivakumar met the protesting farmers and extended their support to the bandh.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said he had tried to speak to the leaders of various farmers’ organisations but in vain. “They have already decided to protest. Being a farmer’s son, I am on the farmers’ side. These amendments have been brought after long discussions,” he said.
Yediyurappa urged the farmers to wait for six months or a year and gauge the benefits of the farm laws. “We haven’t closed the doors on APMC, you can sell it at APMC or wherever you can get a fair price. I request the farmers to wait for another six months or a year. You’ll get to know how it will help you,” he said.
President Ram Nath Kovind Sunday gave assent to The Farmers’ 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, much to the chagrin of the Opposition and protesting farmers.
Their primary objection of the farmers is to the first law, which provides for the creation of a “trade area” outside the existing Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis. While there is no mention of the MSP mechanism in any of the three laws, farmers fear that if the mandi system comes to an end, MSP will soon follow and they would be at the “mercy” of big corporate entities. The government has maintained that the MSP system will continue.
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