Bharat Bandh today: Farmers begin agitation against agriculture Bills
Angry with three agriculture reform Bills brought by the Centre, farmers across the country will be participating in Bharat Bandh today, September 25, with Punjab and Haryana becoming the epicenter of protests. Rail and road traffic are likely to be affected and in some places, extra police forces have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. Opposition parties are also supporting the farmers. Here's more.
More than two dozen organizations participating in bandh
The shutdown has been called by All India Farmers Union (AIFU), Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM), and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). Farmers' organizations in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra also declared they would be supporting the call for bandh. In total, over 12 farm organizations will take to the streets to protest against BJP-led Centre.
RSS-backed organizations also want amendments, although won't participate in bandh
Notably, outfits affiliated to RSS, the ideological parent of BJP, are also demanding amendments in the proposed laws, but they would stay afar from the bandh. These bodies are Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Ten central trade unions, like All India Trade Union Congress, National Trades Union Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and Hind Mazdoor Sabha, also lent support to farmers.
Congress and Rahul Gandhi support the bandh: Surjewala
Congress, which tried to stall the passage of two out of the three Bills in Rajya Sabha, declared its support for the bandh. Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government was attacking farmers. "The Congress and Rahul Gandhi stand solidly with farmers and support the Bharat Bandh," he tweeted, adding that party workers would come on streets as well.
After Parliament's setback, parties urged President to not sign Bills
Notably, 18 parties in total have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to not sign two Bills, that were passed in the Parliament during the recently-concluded Monsoon Session. These parties include AAP, NCP, DMK, SP, Trinamool, RJD, and Left parties.
Police forces deployed in Amritsar, bus service canceled in Ambala
As the shutdown began, farmers came on streets, carrying placards, and flags. The Delhi-Chandigarh bus service was canceled in Ambala. Dozens of police personnel were deployed in Amritsar City, to ensure the bandh remains peaceful. A senior cop said, "Security forces have been deployed at every crossroad and level crossing in the entire city so that no untoward incident takes place."
Farmers blocked Amritsar-Delhi highway, Captain said Centre must be pressurized
Recent pictures showed farmers blocking the Amritsar-Delhi National Highway. They belonged to the Bharatiya Kisan Union, and workers of the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) also stood by them. Markets in Mansa, Punjab, sported a deserted look. Supporting the farmers, Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted that the Centre must roll back the Bills. Earlier, he reportedly urged protesting farmers to abide by coronavirus-linked precautions.
Bills a step in the wrong direction: Captain
Farmers are the backbone of our society the recent Farmer Bills passed by the Union Government are a step in the wrong direction. It’s time we all stand for what's right. Together let's impress upon the Centre to pull back these Anti-Farmer bills. #IRejectAntiFarmerBills pic.twitter.com/vTcO49Y5tj— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) September 25, 2020
Reportedly, protest got lukewarm response in Haryana
In neighboring Haryana, the bandh will be observed from 10 am to 4 pm. Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chaduni said the stir got a lukewarm response in the state. "People's support is a must for the same. There should be no vehicles on roads during the bandh call," he said. Home Minister Anil Vij reportedly reviewed the security situation ahead of bandh.
Police was also deployed near Delhi-UP border
Delhi: Police personnel deployed in Chilla area near Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border point, in wake of the nationwide protest called by farmers today against #AgricultureBills passed in the Parliament. pic.twitter.com/wtaaN09mAU— ANI (@ANI) September 25, 2020
Tejashwi Yadav drove a tractor, said Centre made farmers "puppets"
In Bihar, the protest was led by RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, who drove a tractor to support the bandh. "Central government has made our'anndaata' (farmers) a puppet through its 'fund daata'. Farm Bills are anti-farmer and have left them dejected," Yadav reportedly said. Workers of his party participated in rallies across the poll-bound Bihar, with some even riding buffaloes.