Farmers across the country on Friday took to the streets to protest the contentious farm Bills passed by Parliament recently. Agitating farmers blocked roads, including highways, to press the Centre for the withdrawal of the three 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– and the labour bills which are yet to get the assent of the President.
Protests are being held by over 350 farmers’ organisations under the umbrella of All India Kisan Sangharsh (AIKS) Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
Opposition parties like the Congress, the RJD and the Trinamool Congress as well as 10 central trade unions have voiced their support for the farmers. The Congress alleged that the new agriculture laws will “enslave” farmers and the MSP (minimum support price) will be “snatched away” from them. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Randeep Surjewala spoke out against the farm bills and backed the Bharat Bandh.
Amid vehement protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Opposition of “misleading” farmers and “using their shoulders to fire” at his government over the farm bills for “selfish political interests”, and asserted that for the first time in decades, the Centre has framed laws that will benefit farmers and workers.
Farmers, however, have expressed apprehension that the farm Bills would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system and they would be at the “mercy” of big corporate entities.
Threatening to continue their fight till the three farm Bills were revoked, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee on Friday announced extending its ‘rail roko’ agitation in Punjab till September 29. The three-day agitation was scheduled to end on September 26. Railway authorities had earlier said that 14 pairs of special trains would remain suspended between September 24 and September 26.
‘Chakka Jaam’ in Punjab
In Punjab, as many as 31 farmers’ organisations came together for a complete shutdown of the state. While the ruling Congress and AAP have extended support to the protest, the Shiromani Akali Dal held a “chakka jaam” (road blockade) at many places in Punjab. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh dubbed the passage of the farm bills as “a step in the wrong direction”. He said no FIR will be registered for the violation of Section 144 of the CrPC, which bars assembly of more than four people at a place.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal drove a tractor while his wife and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal sat beside him in Muktsar district. Sukhbir led a tractor march from his residence in Badal village to Lambi where the party had organised a protest against the Bills. Prominent Punjabi singers, including Harbhajan Mann and Ranjit Bawa, took part in a farmers’ protest in Nabha.
Farmers block UP-Delhi border
Hundreds of farmers sat on protests on the UP-Delhi border against the farm bills after they were stopped by police personnel from moving towards the national capital, disrupting traffic in Noida and Ghaziabad. A heavy deployment of police personnel in riot gear was made to ward off any disturbance during the protest, a part of the nationwide demonstration against the three farm bills passed during the monsoon session.
The farmers, who had come on foot, two-wheelers and tractor-trolleys, were stopped by police personnel at Noida Gate in Sector 14A near Chilla border by erecting barricades. Two other groups were stopped at Hapur chungi and Modinagar in Ghaziabad.
Will try not to implement farm bills in Maha: Cong
In Maharashtra, the Congress, which is part of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, said it would work towards ensuring that the farm sector bills passed by Parliament are not implemented in the state. The party said it has decided to hold a protest on October 2 against the new laws and a month-long awareness campaign. “We will work together and take a decision on non-implementation of the new farm laws in Maharashtra,”state Congress president and minister Balasaheb Thorat said during a press conference.
Over 180 famers arrested in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, about 180 farmers were arrested for staging a picketing agitation demanding withdrawal of the bills. A large number of them staged a protest in front of the Tiruchirappalli Collectorate with their hands chained and nooses around their necks. They even displayed human skulls, apparently to indicate that the farm bills were detrimental to them.
The Tamil Nadu government sought to assert that the three farm bills passed in Parliament recently will not affect farmers, saying Chief Minister K Palaniswami will not allow any legislation detrimental to their interests. The farmers in the state will not be affected by the Central legilsations, Agriculture Minister R Doraikannu said.
Farm bills will turn farmers into labourers of corporates: CPM leader
Farmers under the aegis of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) staged widespread protests in Kerala against the farm Bills. Senior CPI(M) leader and vice-president of AIKS, S Ramachandran Pillai, launched the protest in front of the Raj Bhavan and said the new agricultural bills will turn farmers into labourers of corporate giants. “The central government has passed laws that will turn all farmers into labourers dependent on giant corporates. Their aim is to hand over the agriculture sector to the corporates. Through this move, our agricultural land, the production and sale of farm produce will be taken over by corporates. We are selling our agriculture sector to corporate giants,” Pillai alleged.
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