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Farmers’ protest HIGHLIGHTS: Farmers appeal for peace, say no forcible closure of shops on Bharat Bandh

Farmers Protest Today in Delhi HIGHLIGHTS: As many as 15 opposition parties across India have lend support to the December 8 Bharat Bandh call by the farmers to protest against the three contentious ordinances.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 8, 2020 11:08:21 am
Opposition leaders to meet President, request his interventionFarmers at the Singhu border in New Delhi on Monday. (Express file photo by Amit Mehra)

Farmers Protest, Bharat Bandh HIGHLIGHTS: A day before the sixth round of talks with the government over the contentious new farm laws, the agitating farmer unions will launch a symbolic ‘Bharat Bandh’ today which has been backed by almost over 15 opposition parties and several trade unions. The farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh who have been protesting at Singhu border near Delhi for the last 12 days, will block key roads during their ‘chakka jam’ protest from 11 am to 3 pm as part of their stir.

“There will be complete ‘Bharat bandh’ till 3 pm Tuesday, but emergency services will be allowed,” farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal told reporters. Rajewal reiterated the farmers’ stand, saying they will not accept anything less than the withdrawal of the three new farm laws by the Centre.

Meanwhile, the Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to tighten security and ensure that peace and tranquillity is maintained during ‘Bharat Bandh’. In a countrywide advisory, the Union Home Ministry also said the state governments and UT administrations must ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines issued with regard to health and social distancing are strictly followed.

Apart from heavy police deployment at key border areas, Delhi Police will deploy personnel “outside offices of all political parties, the Agriculture Minister’s residence and Krishi Bhawan” to ensure law and order is maintained. On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, along with his cabinet colleagues, met farmers at the Singhu border where he reviewed arrangements at the protest site. The AAP, along with 14 other opposition parties have extended support to the December 8 Bharat Bandh call by the farmers to protest against the three contentious ordinances.

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Farmers' Protest Today HIGHLIGHTS: Bharat Bandh today; no question of repeal of laws, govt open to talks; security increased near political parties' offices in Delhi; Centre issues Covid-19 guidelines. Follow latest updates here in Malayalam | Bengali | Tamil

09:37 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Mandi workers, arhtiyas, agri officers: support for farmers’ protest pours in from all fronts

To support protesting farmers, all the grain markets — including 152 main yards and around 1,700 sub-yards and mandis at the block and village level, will stay shut for three days till December 9 (Wednesday) as arhtiyas and labourers working at these mandis will join the dharna at Delhi border.

Talking to The Indian Express, Harbans Singh Rosha, the president of Khanna Grain Market Arhtiyas Association, the biggest mandi of Punjab, said that on Monday commission agents and labourers in 50 buses and 80 personal vehicles were being sent to the dharna site in Delhi. He added that these arhtiyas and labourers belong to mandis of Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and Moga district, while the mandis of the entire state will remain closed for the three days beginning Monday. Read this report by Anju Agnihotri Chaba

09:35 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bengal: Left supporters block trains

Railway service blocked by the Left supporters at Jadavpur Railways station during the nationwide strike called by farmers. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

09:21 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: Security heightened in Bihar

Security personnel deployed in Patna, in the wake of Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions.

09:06 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: Heavy deployment of security at Singhu border

Heavy deployment of security at Singhu border ahead of Bharat Bandh from 11 am to 3 pm today.

09:02 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Mumbai APMC closed due to Bharat Bandh

Mumbai APMC market closed due to Bharat Bandh. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

08:41 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: Traffic diversions on Delhi borders

Tikri, Jharoda borders, Dhansa are closed for any traffic Movement. Badusarai border is open only for light motor vehicles like cars and two wheelers. Jhatikara border is open only for two wheeler traffic.

Available open borders to Haryana are following: Daurala, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera.

08:38 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh today: Protests will be peaceful, says farmers' leader

Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union: Our protest will be completely peaceful. If someone gets stuck for 2-3 hours in a Bandh called by us, we provide them with water and fruits. Ours is a different concept. (ANI)

08:30 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh protests in Andhra Pradesh

Left political parties stage a protest in Vijayawada, in support of today's Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions.

08:17 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: Left parties stage protest in Odisha

Left political parties, trade unions and farmer unions stop trains at Bhubaneswar Railway Station in Odisha.

08:16 (IST)08 Dec 2020
No celebrations on Sonia Gandhi's birthday due to farmers protest, Covid: Congress to state units

Having extended support to the protesting farmers and Bharat bandh call given by them, the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to utilise the issue to gain some political mileage. On Monday, the party’s central leadership sent a message to all state units, asking them not to celebrate party chief Sonia Gandhi’s birthday on December 9. In a letter, AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal stated that Sonia has decided not to celebrate her birthday this year in view of the distress caused by the pandemic and the ongoing farmers’ protests. Stressing that Sonia has requested that no celebratory activities should be carried out on her birthday this year, the letter to state Congress presidents, CLP leaders, AICC general secretaries, in charge of states and heads of frontal organisations asks them to avoid “all sorts of celebrations”.

08:06 (IST)08 Dec 2020
In Ludhiana, petrol pumps, chemists, hotels, eateries to stay closed in support of Bharat Bandh call

Boards and banners in support of the farmers’ December 8 call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ have cropped up all over Ludhiana — the industrial capital of Punjab. This is a city that normally does not respond to such bandh calls. Farmer unions will be blocking state and national highways from 11 am to 4 pm and public buses, trucks will also stay off roads.

The Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) will also stay closed and their members have been asked to work from home. The message pasted outside the exchange says: “Tenants and visitors’ entry is strictly not allowed due to bandh on December 8. Members and clients are requested to work from home to avoid any untoward incident/loss.”

The ‘Bharat Bandh’ call has got widespread response from Punjab’s political parties as Congress will be organising dharnas at district levels in support of farmers. Same will be done by Shiromani Akali Dal, which has also cancelled its centenary celebrations which were to be organised from December 8-10.

07:55 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: DMK, 8 labour unions extend support; autos to stay off roads in Tamil Nadu

DMK and its allies have extended their support to the nationwide strike called by the farmers. In a joint statement, DMK leader MK Stalin said the demand of the farmers to withdraw the three farm laws was totally justified. Stalin has appealed to all the farmer unions, trade unions, labour unions to extend their support and “make this Bandh a great success”.

Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam will also be participating in the nationwide protest. On behalf of Kamal Haasan, a 10-member team headed by the party’s farmer wing head Mayilsamy reached the capital on Sunday to take part in the protest.

Besides CITU, AITUC, INTUC, eight labour unions in Tamil Nadu have extended their support. Auto rickshaws will not run across the state tomorrow. Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation (TNSTC) has not issued any statement supporting the bandh till now.

07:53 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Assam Oppn parties extend support to ‘Bharat bandh’ call

In Assam, all opposition parties — including Congress, AIUDF, the Left, among others — have come together to extend their “full support” to the Bharat Bandh called by the farmer unions on December 8. A statement from the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee said that apart from supporting the bandh on December 8, the party’s local units will hold protest programs with the farmers in farms across the state and burn effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Assam chapter of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) said that the new farm laws amounted to annulling the Minimum Support Price, which the BJP had promised in its “Vision Document” for Assam.

The statement — which was signed by the Congress, CPI-ML, CPI, Liberal Democratic Party Anchalik Gana Marcha, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Raijor Dol, among others — said that the general public’s food security will be affected by the corporatisation of agriculture that the laws will result in.

07:49 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh today: Shetkari Sanghatana says won’t take part, will oppose any move to roll back laws

As farmer unions across the country prepare for Bharat bandh on Tuesday, Shetkari Sanghatana — the union founded by farmer leader Sharad Joshi — has decided to take a different route. Anil Ghanwat, president of the union, told The Indian Express that not only will they not be participating in the nationwide strike but will also oppose any move to roll back the three farm laws.

Since the last few days, thousands of farmers mainly from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting at the borders of New Delhi, demanding a complete rollback of the new farm laws. Repeated rounds of talk with the central government have failed to bring any solution, with farmer leaders slated to meet the government again on Wednesday. The Bharat Bandh called by the farmers has been supported by all major Opposition parties, trade unions as well as farmer bodies.

Ghanwat, however, said the present laws aim to allow the farmers access to free market, which was denied so far. “For farmers in Maharashtra, this freedom would mean better prices. Also, the competition would ensure better price discovery,” he said.

07:47 (IST)08 Dec 2020
In gujarat on Bharat bandh: ‘No politics’ but certain APMCs to be shut today

Some of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in Gujarat are expected to remain closed due to the nationwide strike called by farmers against the Centre’s new agricultural laws on Tuesday.

Ashit Mehta, Secretary of the Amalsad Chickoo Co-IOperative Society, that falls under Amalsad APMC says, “The chickoo season starts from November and lasts till April. Due to the ongoing nation strike of farmers, the supply of chickoo has been affected, however we have continued our supply to traders in Rajasthan and neighboring districts. We have come to know that the transporters had stopped taking delivery for the goods going to Delhi, so we have decided to keep the mandi shut for two days — December 7 and 8.”

Among the APMCs that will be shut on Tuesday is the Sanand APMC that largely deals with paddy and wheat. “We have decided to keep our APMC closed. Farmers might not turn up tomorrow and so there is no point in keeping the marketing yard open. We are not taking any sides,” said Girish Patel, secretary of APMC, Sanand, which is one of the eight APMCs in Ahmedabad district.

07:45 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Mumbai: Agricultural markets to remain shut for Bharat Bandh

Markets part of the Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) will remain closed on Tuesday to protest the Centre’s new farm bills after a call for Bharat Bandh across the country was announced by various farmers’ unions and organisations. The board of the Mumbai APMC, the wholesale market situated in Navi Mumbai, took the decision on Monday following a call from the Maharashtra State Market Committee to APMCs across the state. Members said all wholesale markets part of the APMC across the state will remain closed.

The state committee had called for a shutdown in solidarity with the farmers protesting the three new agriculture bills. Anil Chavan, secretary of the Mumbai APMC, said that a meeting was called of representatives of various traders, mathadi workers associations, vehicle associations.

07:42 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh today: Borders under watch, so is Agriculture Minister’s home

Apart from heavy police deployment at key border areas for Tuesday’s call for a Bharat bandh by farmer unions, Delhi Police will deploy personnel “outside offices of all political parties, the Agriculture Minister’s residence and Krishi Bhawan” to ensure law and order is maintained.

“Delhi Police has made adequate arrangements to ensure normal movement of people on roads for the proposed bandh. Anybody who tries to disrupt normal movement/life or forcefully closes shops will be strongly dealt with, as per law,” Delhi Police additional PRO Anil Mittal said.

A senior police officer from New Delhi district told The Indian Express, “There will be deployment at Jantar Mantar, Vijay Chowk, India Gate, the Agriculture Minister’s residence, Krishi Bhawan, offices of all political parties — places from where crowd mobilisation is possible. We have also spoken to taxi, transport, trade unions on the bandh.”

07:40 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh today: One lakh autos to remain off the road in Ahmedabad

The Ahmedabad Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union has extended its support to the December 8 Bharat Bandh call given by farmers’ associations protesting against three farm legislations. On Monday, the auto-rickshaw drivers’ union said more than one lakh three-wheelers will remain off the road in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Ashok Punjabi, the head of Gujarat Autorickshaw Drivers’ Action Committee, said they backed the bandh call and urged the Union government to fulfil all the demands of the farmers.

“Autorickshaw drivers are also sons of farmers and we will be supporting them on Tuesday in their bandh call. There will be a voluntary strike called by the autorickshaw drivers in Ahmedabad and anyone found operating their vehicle will be greeted by flowers and requested to join us. Nobody will be forced to be a part of the strike. There are over two lakh autorickshaw drivers in Ahmedabad and we expect that more than one lakh will be a part of tomorrow’s bandh.”

07:38 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat bandh: Vijay Rupani says Gujarat will remain open as police to issue prohibitory orders

The Gujarat Police has said it would impose prohibitory orders in the state on Tuesday in view of the Bharat Bandh call given in support of the farmers’ agitation, even as Chief Minister Vijay Rupani declared that Gujarat would remain open and his government would ensure that nobody tries to forcefully shut down businesses and shops. The CM also warned of legal action against those “trying to vitiate the atmosphere”.

At a press conference on Monday, Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia said that section 144 prohibiting assembly of more than four persons at a public place will be imposed across Gujarat on Tuesday. He added that those attempting to click pictures and videos of any agitation and posting on social media also will be booked.

“Section 144 notification in districts and cities on December 8 will be announced by respective police commissioners and senior officials so that there is no assembly of more than four persons… Check post points at border cities have been set up to ensure smooth management of traffic on state highway. Bandobast has also been arranged outside APMCs and markets. Anyone forcibly shutting shops and businesses forcibly or destroying public and private properties will be booked and arrested,” Bhatia said.

07:17 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Bharat Bandh: 300 farmers’ outfits to take part in bandh in Karnataka

Thousands of farmers in Karnataka will join the Bharat bandh on Tuesday. Karnataka Rajya Riatha Sangha president K Chandreshekar said members of around 300 farmers’ organisations would participate. Aikya Horata, a coalition of farmer, labour and Dalit groups, started an indefinite sit-in protest in Bengaluru on Monday. The Karnataka chapter of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC), a coalition of several farmer organisations, has called for a six-hour bandh on Tuesday.

The Karnataka Congress said it would launch a letter drive against the farm and labour laws. According to Congress Karnataka chief D K Shivakumar, these letters with the signature of farmers and labourers would be sent to the President.

“Congress president Sonia Gandhi has directed the party workers to gather the opinion of the farmers and labourers by way of signature on the letter. On the directions of our party president Sonia Gandhi, we are going to provide 8.8 lakh letters to the farmers and labourers who will sign on it and send it to the President of India,” Shivakumar said.

Inputs by Darshan Devaiah

However, with the three-phase local body elections in Kerala starting on Tuesday, the state has been exempted from the nation-wide strike against the farm laws. The second phase of the polls will be held on December 10 and the final phase on December 14. Votes will be counted on December 16.

Home Minister Amit Shah or Defence Minister Rajnath Singh or both may be fielded at a “later stage” of negotiations with the farmer union leaders if the government senses any climbdown by the farmers on the offers the government has made so far, sources said on Sunday. “The idea was to bring down the temperature with the first round of talks – we were quite aware that it would go on for several rounds – and find common ground so that seniors could step in. However, the farmers have not yet shown any sign of yielding,” said a senior BJP leader. “We have not given up hope that both the government and the farmers can find a middle path.”

With next round of talks with the farmers scheduled on December 9, the government is ready for a long haul as a solution to the deadlock "can only be found through discussions”, said a top government official. There is “no question of repealing” the three laws against which farmers are protesting but “all other options” are open as the government discusses the range of issues flagged by farmer leaders, the official told The Indian Express.

Preparing for the December 9 round of talks, on Sunday, Tomar, who is leading the Government’s team in the talks, held a meeting with his two deputies Kailash Choudhary and Parshottam Rupala.

The government would have preferred to hold the discussions with a smaller team, the top official said, as, “it is challenging to hold negotiations with 35-40 people at the same table”. In the first meeting on December 1, the government had proposed that a small team including some government officials could look into the issue but representatives of farmer unions had spurned that offer saying discussions should happen with everyone, even if a select few of them speak.

Still, a section of BJP leaders admitted that there could have been more spadework when the protests erupted. “Some leaders feel that if there was more time between the introduction of the Bills and their passage, we could have avoided such a scenario,” said a leader. “At least, some Opposition parties would not have the chance to throw their weight behind the protesters if we had accepted their demand for sending it to a parliamentary panel.”

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