Farmers continue protest in Bengaluru, condemn anti-cattle slaughter bill

The agitation was led by farmer groups and it received support from Dalit and labour groups in Karnataka.
Bengaluru railway station
Bengaluru railway station
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A fresh protest led by farmer groups broke out on Thursday morning starting from Bengaluru's Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station. The agitation was led by Kodihalli Chandrashekar, the President of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a pro-farmer organisation, and it received support from Dalit and labour groups in Karnataka. 

"Farmers and workers are united today against this government's decisions this week. The workers who are gathered here are also sons and daughters of farmers. Our farmers will resist the land reform law passed this week and we are against HD Kumaraswamy's decision (to back the land reform law)," Kodihalli Chandrashekar told TNM at the start of the protest march in Bengaluru.  

The protesters began the march around 11:30 am from the railway station in central Bengaluru towards Freedom Park, also located at the heart of the city. The protest disrupted traffic in the central Bengaluru region.

This is the third day in a row farmer protests are being held in Bengaluru. Farmers from Karnataka showed solidarity to the Bharat Bandh called by farmers agitating at the Delhi border against the central government's proposed farm laws on Tuesday. The farmers held a protest again on Wednesday after the contentious Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 2020 was passed in the Karnataka Legislative Council. A day later, a stringent anti-cow slaughter bill was passed in the Karnataka Assembly and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) bill was passed in the Legislative Council amid a walkout by the opposition Congress.

Kodihalli Chandrashekar (centre)

Kodihalli Chandrashekar said farmers agitating in Bengaluru are against these decisions and are asking the government to repeal them. While the land reform law was the focus of protests held on Wednesday, Kodihalli Chandrashekar chose to focus on the anti-cow slaughter bill on Thursday.  

"A lot has been talked about the decision to bring in the land reform law but even the anti-cow slaughter bill affects farmers even though it has been brought in keeping electoral politics in mind. It is common for farmers to sell a cow or buffalo when it stops producing milk. We will look after them but we want the government to introduce an insurance scheme for cattle so when the cattle dies we will be compensated," Kodihalli Chandrashekar said.

The farmer leader also continued his criticism of JD(S) leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy after the JD(S) supported the land reform law in the Legislative Council this week.

"What is his objective? Tell the people of the state what it is. Is it a deal to share power? Kumaraswamy is a deal master. The farmers of this land know how to reply to politicians like him," said Chandrashekar. 

Kumaraswamy on Wednesday had confirmed that his party supported the contentious Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Act-2020 after the state government agreed to withdraw some of the "dangerous provisions in the law". 

Among several changes, the amendment gives anyone the right to buy farmland previously restricted only to those with agricultural background. This, the farmers say, could lead to corporates taking over tracts of farmland. 

The farmer leaders said that their protest will continue until the farm laws are rolled back.

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