A series of protests have been planned across the State on Tuesday to express solidarity with the Bharat Bandh called by farmers protesting in Delhi demanding that the Union government repeal the three farm laws. There has been an overwhelming support for the cause among farmer organisations in the State.
Aikya Horata, a coalition of farmer, labour and Dalit groups, will start an indefinite sit-in protest in Bengaluru on Monday. Some farmers from the State have also reached Delhi and joined the agitation. Karnataka’s own amendment to farm laws have further strengthened their resolve to fight, say farmers’ groups.
The Karnataka Chapter of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC), a coalition of several farmer organisations, has called for a six-hour bandh on Tuesday.
“We request all citizens of the State to voluntarily cease all businesses and operations from 6 a.m. till noon on Tuesday in solidarity with farmers,” a statement from AIKSCC said. “Unlike in North India, this is the season for agricultural work. So we have called for a six-hour bandh,” G.C. Bayyareddy, State convener, AIKSCC, said.
The lack of response by businesses already reeling under losses owing to the pandemic to the recent Karnataka bandh call, was also a factor that made organisations rethink the idea of a day-long bandh, sources said. While a section of taxi drivers has supported the bandh, others are unlikely to do so, sources said.
Meanwhile, farmer organisations have planned a series of decentralised protests in all taluks of the State to take the message to the grassroots. All-India Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sanghatan and Raitha Krishi Karmika Sanghatane held a series of simultaneous protests at taluk offices in several districts, including Belagavi, Dharwad, Shivamogga, Davangere, and Gadag among others. More such protests are planned.
Farmers’ leader and former Union Minister Babagouda Patil said the three farm laws have the potential to destroy India, not just agriculture. “If we do not wake up now, we will regret it,” he said. He argued the laws will only open up the country’s food market for manipulation by international grain trading MNCs, who would resort to hoarding and artificially driving up prices, affecting consumers, but leaving farmers in the lurch.
“It is now a question of survival and hence every farmer in every village will participate in the agitation,” said farmers’ leader Kurabur Shanthakumar. He accused the Centre of not being sincere in listening to farmers who are agitating in Delhi since the last few days and was instead engaged in prolonging the discussion to wear out farmers and break the agitation.