Massive farmer protests erupt in Punjab, Haryana against Centre's agriculture bills
New Delhi/IBNS: More than 265 farmers' groups on Friday took to streets nationwide to carry out rallies and demonstrations in protest against the controversial farm bills passed in the Parliament.
The farmers' groups on Friday warned that the protests will further intensify if the bills are not repealed.
The bills, already cleared in the Lok Sabha, now awaits the assent of the President before they can become law.
The opposition parties had earlier appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind to not sign the bills passed by the Narendra Modi government "unconstitutionally."
Amid massive protests by farmers supported by opposition parties including Congress, RJD and Trinamool Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed the farm bills as "historic" and hit out at the former for misleading the farmers.
"All those who tell lies to farmers are taking advantages of this community these days for their selfish political interests and spreading rumours," said the PM addressing a virtual meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
He said small and marginal farmers would benefit most from the reforms.
However, despite the Prime Minister's repeated assurances that the farmers won't be deprived of the Minimum Support Price (MSP), massive protests broke out in Punjab and Haryana as well as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and even Karnataka.
In Punjab, a complete bandh was observed on Friday with the farming community staging dharna and organising protest demonstrations across the state against the agriculture reform bills.
Roads witnessed deserted scenes as the bazaars and shops remained shut in support of the farmers and to show annoyance against the Union Government getting the bills passed without debate in the Upper House.
Agitating farmers blocked roads and railway lines by staging day-long dharna affecting the rail traffic much to the inconvenience of the passengers who had either halted their journey or due to Ferozepur Railway Division cancelling over 14 major express and mail trains till Saturday.
More than 30 farmers organizations including Bhartiya Kisan Union, Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Kirti Kisan Union, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh committee participated in the bandh.
In Jharkhand's Ranchi, party workers and leaders belonging to the RJD and Left parties protested against the bills.
The leaders of the different left parties who had gathered at the Albert Ekka Chowk said, due to the bills the farmers would be forced to sell away their produce to the big companies at throw-away prices and when the farmers would be helpless the people would have to go hungry.
The left leaders said the Agriculture bills brought by the Centre are more in the favour of the corporate houses rather than that of the farmers.
They said, the central ministers and leaders of BJP are claiming that the bills would be beneficial for farmers but in reality, they would be forced to commit suicide.
Leaders of the state unit of RJD staged a dharna outside the Raj Bhawan. They said that they are with the opposition and will continue their agitation until the bills are taken back.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill seeks to give farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
The second one- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020-enables farmers to get into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.