Farmers across India on streets in Bharat Bandh against Farm Bills

Former minister Harsimrat Badal asks for Punjab CM intervention

Politics

September 25, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Thousands of farmers all over India participated in numerous protests against the three agricultural reform bills passed by Parliament.

A whole host of farmers’ organisations, political parties and civil rights activists joined in protests on Friday as part of the Bharat Bandh general strike called in protest against the three controversial farm reform bills passed in Parliament earlier this week.

In Punjab, railway traffic was affected as hundreds of farmers blocked railway lines, while roads in parts of Haryana, UP and Bihar were also blocked for a large part of the day as part of the protest.

A strict police presence on all borders of the national capital ensured that the protesting farmers could not enter Delhi, but protests were organised at nearly all major entry points to the capital, including the Delhi-Noida border where nearly 400 farmers blocked the DND bridge throughout the day. The farmers told Media India Group that by passing the bills, the government has opened up the farming sector totally and pitched the small and marginal farmers against large Indian companies as well as the multinationals.

“We will carry on protesting for as long as it is necessary. It is a question of survival for us. Instead of helping the farmers who have been working relentlessly even during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the nation had enough to eat, we find that the government has only taken care of interest of the large companies, while ignoring our demands and needs,’’ leader of the impromptu protest told Media India Group.

In Punjab, Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Badal and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who recently resigned from the union government in protest against the bills led a large farmers’ rally in Lambi, the village from where the Badal family hails. At the meeting, Badal said that Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh should declare the entire state a ‘mandi’ or an agriculture produce market to ensure that the farm bills are not applicable anywhere in the state. A total of 31 farmers’ organisations participated in the Punjab strike and they said the agitation would continue for three days. Meanwhile, CM Singh said that the police will not file any cases against peaceful protestors even if they flouted Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code that has been imposed across the state in response to Covid-19 pandemic.

All India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sanghatan also organised protests across Haryana. “While we thank our activists and other farmers for participating in the protests today, it is important to remember that the battle is not yet over and it is crucial to carry on this fight against the move to destroy government mandis and allow private companies to take total control and in taking away farmers rights over their own lands in the garb of contract farming. “Today’s protest was successful as it was a coordinated effort of over 250 farmers organisations from all over India under the common banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee,” Satyawan, president of the organisation in Haryana said in a press communique.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused opposition parties of misleading the farmers and reiterated his government’s commitment towards farmers’ welfare and that the ‘path-breaking’ reforms were necessary to change the lives of the farmers.

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