The Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha to protest against the contentious three farm laws of the Union government will be held on Monday, September 27, from 6 am to 4 pm. Here are the details of all that you need to know from why the bandh is announced, which organisations and political parties have backed it and what is exempted. Here is all that you need to know.
What is SMK and why is the bandh announced?
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha is the the umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the farmers' agitation against the three contentious farm laws -- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 -- passed by the Union government in September last year.
It has been 10 months since the farmers groups have started their protests, one of the massive ones the country has witnessed in the recent past, alleging that these laws will end the 'mandi' and the MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates. But the Union government has rejected the allegations and have been asserting that these steps will help increase farmers' income.
The government and farmer unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers' protest. However, a consensus is yet to be reached. Talks have not resumed after January 26, when violence broke out as police and protesters clashed during a tractor rally.
Announcing the bandh, the SKM said in a recent statement, "SKM appeals to every Indian to join this nationwide movement and make the 'Bharat Bandh' a resounding success. In particular, we appeal to all organisations of workers, traders, transporters, businessmen, students, youth and women and all social movements to extend solidarity with the farmers that day."
What will remain shut
The bandh will be held from six in the morning to four in the evening. SKM has announced that all government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments to remain shut, along with public events and functions to be closed throughout the country.
However, all emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies will be exempted.
SKM has also emphasized that the bandh will be enforced in a voluntary and peaceful manner.
Who all has pledged support
The Congress on Sunday asked all its workers, state unit chiefs and heads of frontal organizations to take part in the 'Bharat Bandh'.
"We believe in the rights of our farmers and we will stand by them in their fight against the black farm laws," KC Venugopal said in a tweet.
Recently, in a joint statement, the CPI, CPI(M), All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) also pledged support to the Bharat Bandh, calling the farmers' struggle "historic".
In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M) has called for a hartal on September 27 in solidarity with the Bharat Bandh announced by the farmers. The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, as well as the YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh, have also extended support to the nationwide strike against the farm laws.
The DMK government called on the people of Tamil Nadu to make the Bharat Bandh a success, while the Andhra Pradesh government announced that APSRTC (Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation) buses will not run till 1 pm on September 27.
Meanwhile, the BJP government in Karnataka denounced the call for the strike, with CM Basavaraj Bommai stating that disrupting economic activities in the aftermath of the pandemic was not in the interest of the nation. The TRS government in Telangana is yet to declare its stand on the nationwide strike.
Watch video explainer on the contentious farm laws: