New Delhi: Furthering the struggle against the farm laws, farmers’ organisations on Wednesday announced a ‘Bharat Bandh on March 26 on the completion of four months’ of ongoing agitation at the entry gates of the national capital.
Addressing the press conference here on Wednesday, Buta Singh Burjgill, President, Bharatiya Kisan Sabha Dakaunda, said farmers’ organisations have called an all-India convention of trade unions, including transporters’ associations on March 17 on the Singhu Border itself to show that it is now a people’s movement and no longer limited to farmers alone.
“It will be a complete bandh from morning to evening. Nothing will move either on railway tracks or roads, including auto rickshaws. The bandh will be completely peaceful. We are getting reports that the bandh will be observed in 700 districts of the country,” he said
Commenting on scheduled protest on March 15 against the privatisation of railways and other public sector undertakings by workers’ unions, Burjgill said: “The farmers will participate with full strength on the call given by central trade unions. Since it’s a joint programme, we will mainly stage protest at the railways. It will be also observed in different districts where the memorandum will be submitted to District Magistrates/ District Commissioners.”
The farmers’ leaders seemingly appeared furious over the decision by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which stated that it will procure wheat only from those farmers who have land registered in their names.
“I think the decision is simply an extension of three farm laws through which the government is abdicating its responsibility to procure produce from farmers and transferring its duty to beloved corporates. A large population living in Haryana and Punjab is tilling the land as sharecroppers. How will they sell their produce? Essentially, it is an assault on agriculture and FCI. This is why, we unanimously decided to observe ‘Kheti Bachao, FCI Bachao’ day on March 19 in APMC Mandis across the country,” said Burjgill.
Sunilam from Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh, said the weakening of FCI gets a further boost from the statement that it will only procure 4.5 crore tonne of wheat in the upcoming season whereas the total expected production is likely to be 11 crore tonne.
“In Madhya Pradesh alone, only 40% farmers could furnish their details for online registration of land records. The majority could not register itself because the servers remained dysfunctional. So, it’s a cheating with them.”
The farmers’ unions also appealed to the youth to be part of its celebrations on all borders to pay tribute to legendary freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, who were hanged by the colonial British government on March 23, 1931. They also announced that the farmers’ will burn the copies of three farm laws on the eve of Holi (on Mrach 29).
Ashish Mittal, General Secretary, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, said the movement was now intensifying in Eastern Uttar Pradesh where the Bharatiya Janata Party state government, led by Yogi Adityanath, tried to repress it through coercive measures, including arrests and issuing summons to farmer leaders.
“Despite the brutal repression, we are witnessing sizeable mahapanchayats taking place across the districts. Simultaneously, an awareness rally is going from village to village in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh including Lakhimpur Khiri, Rampur, Pilibhit and Bijnore. The response which these gatherings is getting shows that the people are angry with the farm laws and skyrocketing prices of petrol, diesel and LPG, which are only crushing them under unbearable inflation,” Mittal said.
‘Saddened but not surprised in Haryana’
The farmers leaders said they had expected a victory for the ‘No Trust Vote’ moved by the Congress in Haryana Assembly, but the ruling BJP succeeded in defending its government. Farmers unions’ had called upon MLAs of Jannayak Janta Party, ally of BJP in the Assembly and Independent MLAs to vote against the government.
In a statement, Darshan Pal, President, Krantikari Kisan Union, said: “SKM thanked the people of Haryana who showed their full strength against the anti-farmer BJP and the JJP government. The anti-farmer face of JJP, which describes themselves as a party belonging to the farming community, has been completely exposed. These MLAs have no political future because of ongoing movement and this express the defeat of no confidence motion. Farmers have sown seeds of opposition and resistance against these anti farmer faces and results will be harvested soon. Haryana farmers intended to intensify this protest by socially boycotting all BJP and JJP leaders.”