New Delhi: Farmer representatives from around 40 unions on Sunday requested a “peaceful Bharat Bandh” on December 8 and announced that weddings would be exempted from the nationwide protest.
Baldev Singh Nihal, Ashok Dhanvle, Tenjinder Virk, Comrade BV and Yogendra Yadav announced the move after a day-long meeting held to chalk out plan for the ‘Bharat Bandh’, a move to raise their voice against the Centre’s three contentious farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Chandigarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Tamil Nadu and a joint platform of 10 central trade unions have so far extended their support to the call which was made public after the fifth round of the government-farmer talks remained inconclusive with both sides adamant on their positions.
Farmer leader Nihal said that the agitation is not only of Punjab farmers but also for the whole nation.
“Since the government is not taking us seriously, we have called ‘Bharat Bandh’ and that the Ministers in fifth round of government-farmer talks on Saturday got upset with the idea of nationwide shutdown.
“All the transport and shops would be closed since morning. The transport will be opened by noon but shops will remain closed. We won’t let anyone interfere in this and would take strict action. Youth farmers from Gujarat are also joining tomorrow. Gujarat is the state of Prime Minister Modi,” he said.
Another farmer leader Jagmohan Singh said the govt has to “take back the three laws” and “we made it clear in yesterday’s meeting that this is a non-negotiable demand”.
Yogendra Yadav announced that “weddings would be exempted from the Bharat Bandh”.
Amarjeet, another farmer leader, requested protesting farmers and others to hold a “peaceful Bharat Bandh on December 8”, and said that “the government might try to turn it violent”.
As the ongoing farmers protest entered the 11th day on Sunday, the farmer representatives were engaged in meeting since morning at Singhu Border — one of the protest spots on the Delhi-Chandigarh route — to chalk out a plan for the ‘Bharat Bandh’ and discuss further strategy of the agitation.
The farmer leaders have decided to continue their sit-in until their first and major demand to repeal all three farm laws is not accepted. It is reported emergency services and wedding processions will be allowed to operate.
While the government was agreeable in the fifth government-farmer meet to undertake amendments to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, farmers were pushing for the scrapping of these laws.
Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta Ugrahan state President Joginder Singh told IANS that a few team members of the group have been sent to Punjab for a complete ‘Bharat Bandh’.
“Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab are among 12 states are expected to observe complete ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8. Odisha and Tamil Nadu are also supporting the call,” Singh said.
“So far, it is not known if Gujarat will follow the ‘bandh’ call as none of the members from there has approached us. However, we have come to know that around 500 farmers are coming in separate vehicles here. I am not aware who is leading them. Separate organisations are coming here to support our protest. Who is organising these people is still not known? All political leaders, except BJP, are supporting the protests in Punjab.”
The farmer leader said that farmers from Bihar have not still come forward to support the bandh. “We expect guaranteed complete shut-in northern India.”
Bharatiya Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh Chathuni told IANS that “it would be a peaceful ‘Bharat Bandh’ across the country”, assuring “if any person is found adopting violent acts, he would be handed over to police”.
Rajasthan Khadya Padarth Vyapar Sangh President Babulal Gupta told IANS that 247 “mandis” in Rajasthan along with oil mills, pulse mills and flour mills will be completely closed in support of ‘Bharat Bandh’ call by farmers. “Besides Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab are supporting the ‘bandh’ call.”
Besides, a joint forum of ten central trade unions — Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)– is supporting the nationwide strike.
Kultaran Singh Atwal, President of All India Motor Transport Congress, told IANS that “transport associations and unions will also be observing ‘chakka jam’ in the northern states on December 8 under the banner of AIMTC.”
“You are well aware that our farmer brothers are fighting for their rights for last 11 days. More than 60 per cent of our transport vehicles are dependent on agriculture produce and we are dependent upon them. If the farmers are not there, then how can the transporters survive. Moreover, most of the transporters also come from farmer families,” Atwal said.
“The farmers are the ‘annadata’ of this nation and, therefore, it becomes our moral duty to support their cause. The transport fraternity of India under the banner of AIMTC has extended its support to them.”
Thousands of protesters have already blocked Delhi borders at five points connecting it to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The protest which began on November 26 will be observed across the nation on December 8 for which farmer associations are continuously contacting different state unions.