Farmers’ Bharat Bandh may impact normal life in Punjab, Haryana today
A call for a 12-hour Bharat Bandh by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of farmers’ unions, on Friday is likely to have an impact in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The strike, in protest against the three contentious farm laws, is slated to be observed from 6 am till 6 pm. All business establishments, road and rail services will remain suspended during this period.
The 32 farmers’ bodies, which are part of SKM, are making efforts to ensure the bandh impact is also felt in other parts of the country, farmer leaders said.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, among other states, have been staging a sit-in along Delhi borders, mainly Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, since November 27, seeking repeal of the farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – passed in Parliament in the Monsoon Session. The protesting farmers fear that the new agricultural laws will dismantle the Minimum Support price (MSP) and corporatise farming.
Despite 12 rounds of talks, the farmers and the Centre have failed to resolve the stalemate.
According to Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) (Dakaunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh, an appeal has been issued to all trade unions and traders, banks and government offices to remain shut to make the strike a success.
“Samyukt Kisan Morcha has appealed to all sections of the society to participate,” Singh said, adding that farm leaders also visited markets and met representatives of trade unions to seek their support for the bandh.
Farm leaders such as BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait and Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav have visited several states in the past one month to create awareness and seek support of local farm bodies for the strike.
“Many trade and bank unions who are protesting against selling of the government public sector enterprises have extended their support to the bandh call,” Singh said.
No road and rail movement will be allowed during the strike.
“Farm unions will block the state and national highways and key rail routes to halt the movement of traffic,” the BKU leader said.
In Haryana, Balwant Nambardar, head of Phogat khap, said farmers have decided to block railways at five points and roads across 30 locations in Bhiwani and Dadri districts. “We have asked the farmers to reach their nearby protest site to observe a complete bandh,” he said.
INLD state president Nafe Singh Rathee assured the support of his party workers for the bandh.’
In Rajasthan, SKM convenor Sanjay Madhav said all shops and markets, barring medical stores, petrol pumps and ambulance services, will remain shut. “Farmers will block the service lane and also Delhi-Jaipur lane on Jaipur-Delhi National Highway at Shahjahanpur along Rajasthan-Haryana border where farmers have been agitating for the last four months,” he said.
However, Kota Vyapar Mahasangh president Kranti Jain said no bandh would be observed in the state as the festival season is round the corner.
The 32 farmers’ bodies, which are part of SKM, are making efforts to ensure the bandh impact is also felt in other parts of the country, according to farm leaders.
Meanwhile in Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav has decided to club the Bharat Bandh with Bihar Bandh called by his party to protest against the forceful removal of party legislators from the state assembly on Tuesday.
“To protest against the death of democracy by chief minister (Nitish Kumar), beating of MLAs, inflation, stand against farm bills, I call for Bihar Bandh on March 26,” Yadav tweeted.
In Andhra Pradesh, the protesting workers at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant along with political parties have decided to observe a shutdown in the port city to protest against the Centre’s decision to privatise the steel plant as well as lend support to the farmers’ in their cause.
Police officials in various states have said that extra force would be deployed to prevent any untoward incident. Punjab police additional director general (law and order) Ishwar Singh said the field staff have been directed to remain alert while patrolling and setting up of check points have increased.
Sonipat superintendent of police Jashandeep Randhawa said he has held a meeting with senior district police officials to maintain law and order at Kundli border among other areas in the district.
The bandh is also likely to have an impact in the four election-bound states and one Union territory – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry. In West Bengal, peasant front leaders of Left parties said meetings would be held in this regard (bandh call).