Farmers’ organisations on Wednesday gave their final nod to the Bharat Bandh Programme on March 26 on the completion of four months of the ongoing agitation against the three Farm Laws.
The decision was reached upon after a day-long convention with 42 organisations, including central trade unions, students and teachers’ bodies and women organisations. Earlier in the day some organisations expressed a desire to postpone the programme on account of the festival of Holi.
Addressing a press conference at Delhi’s north-west Singhu Border, Krantikari Kisan Union president Darshan Pal said that the convention had garnered immense support from transporters and traders. He added that they assured the Samyukta Kisan Morcha of observing a bandh followed by a complete halt on movement of vehicles and trade operations from 6 am to 6 pm on the day.
Pal mentioned that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha – a collective of farmers’ unions – had decided to boycott two recent orders issued by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) through which it revised the parameters of procurement of wheat and of producing land records for sale at government mandis or markets.
A committee headed by Sanjiv Kumar, the Chairman and Managing Director of the FCI, recommended that wheat would be only procured if the produce had 12% moisture with the quantity of foreign matter below 0.50%.
“The new orders are atrocious because any sane person would say that wheat with such low moisture is not good for extracting flour, even at a local chakki or mill. This only means that the government want to abdicate its responsibility and transfer its duty to private players. Secondly, producing land records which establishes ownership of fathers and grand fathers is very difficult to do. Finally, almost 40% of the land in Punjab is tilled by sharecroppers. What will happen to them?” asked Pal.
Krishna Prasad, vice-president of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said that the morcha had also decided to increase coordination at the state and district levels among mass organisations to prepare for the bandh and upcoming programmes. Lambasting reports regarding the introduction of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill in the ongoing Parliament session, he said: “When we were discussing the laws in the Vigyan Bhawan in January, it was Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar who said that they would not introduce it. Now they are going back on their promises. This is how a cheat conducts itself. Despite these ill tactics our movements is only gaining strength with growing local support.”
In another development, while speaking to Newsclick at the sidelines of the press meet, he said: “A ‘Shaheed Yadgar Kisan Mazdoor Padyatra’ will be organised between March 18 and March 23.Preparations are underway for people from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab to join the Shaheed Diwas events marking the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on March 23. One padayatra will start on March 18 from Lal Sadak Hansi in Hisar, Haryana and will reach the Tikri Border. A second one will start from Khatkar Kalan village and pass through Panipat before reaching Singhu Border. A third padayatra will begin in Mathura before it reaches Palwal.”
Notably, the village of Khatkar Kalan is the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh.
In a statement, the farmers’ collective said: “The 400-km padayatra underway in Karnataka is moving forward with good participation in villages along the route. After completing the Yatra in Bellari on March 23, the soil being collected from the villages en route will be brought to the Singhu Border on April 6. A memorial is being planned for the martyrs of the movement here.”