Bharat Bandh: 18 political parties extend support to nationwide protest of farmers on September 25


New Delhi: As many as two dozen farmer organisations, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), All India Farmers Union (AIFU), All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), and All India Kisan Mahasangh (AIKM), have come together for the ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Friday (September 25) to protest against farm Bills passed by Parliament amid massive protests from 18 political parties.

According to reports, 31 farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana are already on protest and they want to convey their concerns to the government on Friday through the bandh call.

Farmers` unions have requested farmers to come out in open to oppose the bills as Bharatiya Kisan Union has reportedly said that “On September 25 there will be farmers` curfew, blockade and till purchase of produce as per MSP is guaranteed in the law the agitation will go on.” Rakesh Tikait of the BKU has appealed its members to come out in large numbers.

The farmers have also received support from 18 political parties including the Congress which has governments in four states, TMC in West Bengal, Left in Kerala, AAP in Delhi, TRS in Telangana. Odisha’s ruling party BJD, however, demanded the Bills be sent to a select committee.

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In Chandigarh, the Punjab Youth Congress organised a statewide `8 Vaje 8 Minute Mashal March` on September 24 to support the Punjab bandh call of farmers agitating against the “anti-farmers” bill passed by the Modi government.

In a press statement, Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) president Brinder Singh Dhillon said that the PYC extends full support to the farmers’ organisations staging statewide dharnas against the bills. 

Meanwhile, Several trains were suspended on Thursday as farmers began a three-day `rail roko` campaign against the recently passed Farm Bills. The Ferozepur Railway division decided to suspend the operation of special trains till September 26 in view of the safety of passengers, a rail official told IANS.

The trains that were suspended include Golden Temple Mail (Amritsar-Mumbai Central), Jan Shatabdi Express (Haridwar-Amritsar), New Delhi-Jammu Tawi, Sachkhand Express (Nanded-Amritsar), and Shaheed Express (Amritsar-Jaynagar).

Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) staged a sit-in protest on rail tracks in Barnala and Sangrur towns.

Notably, 31 farmer organisations in Punjab cutting across party lines on Wednesday announced a joint statewide protest to be held on Friday. These organisations have given a call for a complete `Punjab bandh` on September 25.

Earlier on September 20, the Rajya Sabha passed the Farmers` Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill amid protest from Opposition parties.

Farmers now would be able to take their produce anywhere — inter-state or intra-state — beyond Agricultural produce market committees (APMCs). The state governments cannot levy any fee or cess on farmers, according to the bills.

The Centre, however, stated that these bills will help small and marginal farms by allowing them to sell produce outside mandis and sign agreements with agri-business firms; and doing away with stock-holding limits on key commodities. 

The farmers` unions have reportedly stated that the problem with the Bills goes beyond MSP to the whole issue of phasing out the `mandis`. The farmers are far more vulnerable to exploitation outside the `mandi` system and they are producers, not agri-businesses, the unions have said.

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