News Karnataka
Thursday, February 02 2023

Karnataka braces for farmers’ Bharat bandh on Tuesday

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Bengaluru: Karnataka is bracing up for Bharat bandh on Tuesday across the state by thousands of farmers and others in protest against the 3 farm laws the Centre enacted recently and in support of their repeal.

“The day-long bandh will be observed across the state except in Bengaluru, where the shutdown will be held on Wednesday, as our farmers are in towns and villages to stage demonstrations and participate in protest rallies,” Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandreshakar told IANS.

The farmers’ organisations have, however, exempted essential supplies and services, including hospitals from the dawn-to-dusk 12-hour bandh.

Though government offices will remain open, attendance of employees will depend on public transport service, which is likely to be affected, as workers’ unions are also extending support to the bandh.

About 500 organisations representing traders, labourers, daily wagers and industrial workers are also supporting the bandh by staying away from work.

“Elaborate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order and prevent untoward incidents like damage to public property and use of force in shutting shops or business establishments,” a state home department official told IANS here.

Additional police personnel have been deployed in cities and towns across the southern state to ensure a peaceful shutdown, as protests, sit-in demonstrations and rallies will be allowed but not violence.

“We are also opposing the APMC bill and the land reforms bill the ruling BJP government had moved in the state assembly in September, as they are also against the welfare and interests of the farmers,” asserted Chandrashekar.

Farmer leaders have distributed pamphlets in Kannada to people in cities and towns across the state for their support to the shutdown.

“We have urged traders, shopkeepers, street vendors and wholesale merchants to support our bandh by closing their premises for a day,” said Chandrashekar.

As hotels and restaurants suffered huge losses due to Covid-induced extended lockdown and restrictions over the last 8 months, their owners said they would extend moral support to the bandh but remain open for serving customers.

State-run road transport corporation will operate buses if the situation remains normal, while autorickshaws and taxis are likely to remain off roads, as their drivers are participating in the bandh.

Transport of goods will be affected, as lorry owners are also participating in the shutdown.

In a related development, the Centre has asked the state to tighten security for the bandh to maintain peace and tranquillity.

“The Union Home Ministry said the state governments should ensure that the Covid-19 guidelines of wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing were strictly observed by the protestors at sit-in demonstrations and rallies,” said the official.

Scores of trade associations and labour organisations, opposition parties Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are extending support to the 2-day shutdown on December 8 and 9 in the state.

“About 50,000 farmers and workers will descend on Bengaluru from across the state on Wednesday in buses, trucks and tractors to lay siege on Vidhan Soudha (state secretariat), as it will be in session for passing the bills,” said the Sangha president.

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ruining the agriculture sector in the country, Shanthakumar said the NDA government had failed to fulfil its assurance of implementing the Swaminathan Committee report.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress will launch a letter drive on Tuesday against the contentious farm and labour laws in support of farmers and labourers.

“The letters with signatures of farmers and labourers will be sent to the President, urging him to revoke the farm laws,” said the opposition party’s state unit president D.K. Shivakumar here.

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