Why Exactly Was There A 'Bharat Bandh' Today?
Many farmers' organizations called for a Bharat Bandh, on Monday (27 September), to further strengthen their ongoing movement against the new agricultural laws. The 10-hour blockade, from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM, was organized by 40 farmers’ organizations under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). Many political parties also extended their support to the Bandh.
The farmers argued that the Bharat Bandh will strengthen their movement. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha said that labor unions, trade unions, workers and student unions, women's organizations and transporters' unions were included in the Bharat Bandh.
Why 27 September?
The three farm laws were passed by the Parliament in September last year, and the date, 27 September, marks the first anniversary of President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent to the three bills. The farmers' organizations have now been protesting against the three farm laws for around 10 months now, and their deadlock with the government has yet not ended.
The SKM’s Guidelines
The SKM had informed earlier that no central and state government office, markets, shops, factories, schools, colleges and other educational institutions will be allowed to open during the Bharat Bandh. As per the statement, public and private transport was not supposed to be allowed on the roads, but exemptions would have been given to emergency services including ambulance and fire services.
The farmers claimed that hospitals, drug shops and other medical related services etc. would be allowed to operate. Students going for the examination or interview will not be stopped, and emergency services related to Covid will also not be interrupted.
“Apolitical” movement gets political support
Many political parties such as the AAP, Congress, BSP, SP, TMC, LDF, UDF, CPI(M), YSRCP, TDP, JDS, DMK, and many other regional parties extended their support to the movement. The Congress has even asked its workers to join the farmers to demonstrate against the centre’s farm laws.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the demands of the farmers are legitimate and the centre should consider them, saying it will not be “bowing down” before anyone if it does so.
Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda has said that his party supported the farmers’ demand of repealing the three farm laws, and discussion should be held with the farmers with “no prior conditions”. Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Siddhu asserted that his party supported the farmer’s Bharat Bandh in their state.
However, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader reiterated their earlier position that though they thanked all the parties for their support, the farmers’ movement and the Bharat Bandh was strictly “apolitical”. Interestingly, the farmers protesting at Ghazipur border today asked the Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary to leave from their site of protest.
Rebels without a cause?
When the farmers’ protests started, the government sat down for multiple rounds of communication, but the farmers’ leaders kept shifting the proverbial goal post and were not ready to settle for anything less than the repeal of the alleged “black laws”.
In such a situation, the top court of the nation took it upon itself to undo the deadlock, and hence suspended the implementation of the three farm laws, forming a committee to advise it on the same. While the report of the committee has been submitted about five months ago, the content has yet not been made public.
The violence that was unleashed on Republic Day at various places in Delhi showed that the protests had turned problematic. Since then, not one but many reports of violence and sexual harassment have come from within the camps of the protestors.
A food surplus country like India needs diversification of crops, a decent supply chain, farmers produce organisations, an open market, and a systemic framework for the same, which the three farm laws were supposed to provide. There is considerable evidence to assert that the nation is facing economic loss on a daily basis because of the blockades due to the farmers' protests.
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