Protests against the newly-implemented farm laws passed by the Parliament and Karnataka Assembly intensified as a tractor was set on fire near Delhi’s India Gate on Monday.
Five people, all residents of Punjab, were detained in connection with the incident. “About 15-20 people had gathered around 7.15-7.30 am and tried to set a tractor on fire. The fire has been doused off and tractor was removed. Legal action is being taken in the matter,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Eish Singhal said
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2020
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is likely to lend support to the protests by farmers by leading an agitation in Punjab and will also address a rally, the date and time of which is being finalised, a senior party leader told Hindustan Times. He may also join protesting farmers in Haryana if the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government allows him to enter the state.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh began a sit-in protest at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh, on his birth anniversary. This is Singh’s first protest against the farm bills, where he is expected to announce more plans to protest the farm legislations.
Meanwhile, Congress MP TN Prathapan said he will move the Supreme Court on Monday and submit a petition challenging The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
A dusk-to-dawn bandh call is being followed in Karnataka on Monday by various farmers’ organisations, pro-Kannada outfits besides the Opposition parties Congress and the JD(S), protesting the amendments to the APMC and land reforms acts made by the BS Yediyurappa government.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene, & other organisations protest in front of Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall in Bengaluru.
— ANI (@ANI) September 28, 2020
Warning of stern action against any forcible enforcement of the bandh has been issued by the state government, PTI reported. In Bengaluru, a protest march has been planned from Town Hall to Mysore Bank Circle against the “anti-farmer” legislations, they said.
While services of goods transporters, taxi, autorickshaw drivers and private buses may be impacted, Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who is also the in-charge of the transport department, has clarified that services of all the four state road transport corporations and even the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation will be available, and the police have been requested to provide additional security.
Farmers’ organisations continued protests on Sunday even as President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to all the three contentious farm bills passed by the Parliament on 20 September, a move which had invited the Opposition’s ire, fuelling a walkout in the Rajya Sabha and the resignation of BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal’s lone Cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s resignation. Leaders of 18 parties had urged him not to sign the farm bills. The move also led to SAD’s exit from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
If Pain & Protests of 3 cr punjabis fail to melt the rigid stance of GoI, it’s no longer the #NDA envisioned by Vajpayee ji & Badal sahab. An alliance that turns a deaf ear to its oldest ally & a blind eye to pleas of those who feed the nation is no longer in the interest of Pb. https://t.co/OqU6at00Jx
— Harsimrat Kaur Badal (@HarsimratBadal_) September 26, 2020
Farmers associated with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee squatted on the Amritsar-Delhi railway track on 27 September, continuing their rail blockade which had started on Wednesday. People from nearby villages brought cooked food and other items for the demonstrators, while community kitchens were set up by local gurudwaras at the protest site. The committee’s general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher demanded that all the sitting 13 MPs from Punjab resign from their seats with immediate effect in support of the farmers’ demands, adding that BJP leaders would not be allowed to enter the villages of Punjab. The protests will be observed till 29 September.
On Thursday, the Congress launched its “mass movement” against the government over “anti-farmer, anti-poor and black laws”, announcing nearly two months of protests.
Apart from holding several press conference across the country over the two months, senior Congress leaders from states will walk to the respective Raj Bhavans on Monday and submit a memorandum on the farm bills to governors to be handed over to the President.
On 2 October, the Congress will observe ‘Kisan-Mazdoor Bachao Divas (Save Farmers and Farm Labourers Day)’. On 10 October, state-level conferences will be held and from 2 to 31 October, the party will collect signatures from two crore farmers from across the country. On 14 November, the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, a memorandum, along with signatures of the farmers, will be submitted to the president.
The Trinamool Congress came out in support of the Shiromani Akali Dal for quitting the NDA. Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien tweeted, “We support Sukhbir Singh Badal and Akali Dal’s stand with the farmers. Fighting for farmers is part of Trinamool DNA. In 2006, Mamata Banerjee risked her life on a historic 26 day fast for farmers’ rights. We oppose #FarmBills2020 as they endanger States’ role, MSP, PDS and procurement.”
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside of the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yards.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, will give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, will remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.
Despite the stiff opposition from the opposition parties, especially Congress, the Yediyurappa administration was successful in getting the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Bill and the Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Bill passed in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday.
While the amendments to land reform act liberalise farmland ownership, the APMC amendment bill curtails the powers of local APMCs and allows private individuals to start agricultural trading, if they hold a permanent account number (PAN).
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