The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of farmer unions, has given a call for Bharat Bandh on Friday, March 26. The bandh is in protest against the three contentious farm laws, and will be observed from 6 am till 6 pm tomorrow.
The SKM on Wednesday appealed to the citizens of the country to make the Bharat Bandh a complete success. According to a statement released by the SKM, farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for the last four months and instead of accepting their demands, the government is discrediting them completely.
The SKM has called for a Bharat Bandh on Friday. On March 26, from 6 am to 6 pm, all road and rail transport, markets and other public places will be closed across the country, it said. However, this is not necessary for the places where elections are going to be held, the statement said.
Senior farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said that trade unions from organised and unorganised sectors, and transport and other associations have extended their support for the Bharat Bandh. "Farmers will block rail tracks in various places. Markets and transport services will be closed during Bharat Bandh," Rajewal told PTI. However, emergency services like ambulance and fire will be allowed during the nationwide shutdown, he added.
Meanwhile, Confederation of All India Traders, which claimed representation of eight crore traders in the country, said that markets will remain open on March 26 as it is not participating in the Bharat Bandh.
"We are not going to participate in Bharat Bandh tomorrow. Markets will remain open in Delhi and other parts of the country. The ongoing deadlock can be resolved only through dialogue process. There should be discussions on amendments in the farm laws that can make existing farming profitable," CAIT’s national general secretary Praveen Khandelwal told PTI.
Besides, farmer leader and senior member of SKM Abhimanyu Kohar said that the major impact of the Bharat Bandh will be felt in Haryana and Punjab.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted in support of the protesting farmers. "We support the call for Bharat Bandh on 26th March against the three Anti Farmers Bill," he wrote on Twitter.
In Andhra Pradesh, the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) has expressed solidarity to the Bharat Bandh on March 26 which is being observed to protest against the Centre's decision to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) and in support of the farmers' unions opposing the farm laws.
Andhra Pradesh I&PR Minister Perni Venkatramaiah said that the State government is against the privatisation of steel plant and in regard to this, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had written letters to the Centre suggesting alternatives to retain the organisation.
Although the state government stepped up to take complete responsibility for the plant, the Central government absurdly asked the state to participate in an open auction and place a bid, he added. "The state government opposes the central government's decision to privatise Visakha Steel, which is the right of Andhraites and aspirations of millions of Telugu people, as there has been a great history and sacrifices of Telugu people for establishing a steel plant in the state."
The Minister appealed to the farmers' associations to cooperate and observe the bandh peacefully without any untoward incidents that cause inconvenience to the general public.
In regard to this, all the government institutions in the state will be open after 1.00 pm and RTC buses will operate in the afternoon. During the bandh, all the emergency health services will run as usual.
(With ANI and PTI inputs)