A large crowd carrying a mix of red, green and blue flags marched in protest in Bengaluru on Monday against the recently passed ordinances on land and agriculture reforms. Led by leaders belonging to Dalit and left-leaning farmer organisations, men, women gathered from across Karnataka in Majestic made their way to Freedom Park via the Anand Rao Circle flyover raising slogans.
The day of the protests coincided with the first day of the Monsoon Session of the State Assembly where three contentious ordinances are set to be passed as laws. The three ordinances that were opposed by the protesters are Karnataka Land reforms (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 and Industrial Disputes and certain other laws (Amendment) ordinance 2020.
Among other dilutions, these laws allow non-agriculturalists of any income group to purchase agricultural lands and retrospectively decriminalises those who bought farmlands illegally till now. Farm lands will also be allowed for industrial usage. Other changes proposed in these laws has increased the land ceilings to allow a person to own 52, 80, 120 and 216 acres of irrigated, partly irrigated, dry land, and barren land, which activists say, will increase land hoarding.
The protesters also voiced their dissent against the Union government on Sunday after two similar âagri-reformâ laws were passed in the Rajya Sabha under controversial circumstances using voice vote when supposedly the government did not have enough numbers.
The farmers were joined by many civil society organisations and distinguished individuals including Yogendra Yadav, a psephologist and leader of Swaraj India; Justice (retired) HN Nagamohan Das, centeraninan freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, among others.
The protesters called these legislations regressive and anti-farmer, and said that the laws will further increase the suffering of small and landless farmers, forcing them into penury and leaving them at the complete mercy of the corporate sector.
Speaking at the protests, Yogendra Yadav, said, âTodayâs protests are not only about farmers but also landless agricultural labourers. So, everyone who is associated with the agricultural economy is against the ordinances. We are also against the land reform which is actually not land reform but land âdeformâ. In the days to come, these protests will only grow further until these laws are withdrawn.â
This is not land reform but land deform! @_YogendraYadav slams @BSYBJP govt for the ordinances to amend Land reforms act, APMC act. He reminds @narendramodi that farmers across India are against #FarmBills #à²à²à³à²¯à²¹à³à²°à²¾à² @kkuruganti pic.twitter.com/EkBBTISJl5â aikyahorata (@aikyahorata) September 21, 2020
Calling the new laws as unconstitutional, Justice (retd) Nagamohan Das, said, âThese ordinances will destroy farming as we know it. Farmers will become workers in their own land or be pushed to cities. They are unconstitutional and should be rejected.â
In addition to opposing the land and agricultural reforms, the left organisations also opposed the recently passed Industrial Disputes and Other Law (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance which amends the Industrial Disputes Act, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act and the Factories Act.
MD Harigovind of the All India Trade Union Congress said these ordinances that the state government is attempting to push through in the present assembly session has been undertaken at the behest of the central government which is enabling the corporate sector to monopolise the farm sectors. He added, âSuch anti-people ordinances in the times of the economic crisis show the fact that the state government has lost touch with the reality of the lives of the working class people. The state government has buckled to pressure from the corporate sector and is undermining democratic values in our society by taking unilateral decisions, without any consultation with the peasant, farmer and workers organisations in our society.â
Here is a video of the protests held in Bengaluru: