Bengaluru, Sep 23 (IANS) The Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha on Wednesday called for a statewide shutdown on September 28 in protest against the farm Bills passed in the Parliament.
“A total shutdown (‘bandh’) will be observed from dawn to dusk on Monday (September 28) across the state in protest against the anti-farmer Bills which the Centre has passed in the Parliament and the bills to amend the APMC Act and the Land Reforms Act by the state government here,” Sanga president Kodihalli Chandrashekar told reporters here.
Hundreds of farmers from across the southern state have been staging rallies and sit-in demonstrations at the Freedom’s Park in the city centre since Monday to draw the attention of the ruling BJP government as the Monsoon Session of the state legislature began to take up the amendment bills.
“About 30 organisations, including opposition parties, are extending support to our shutdown call, as the changes to the laws will threaten our livelihood,” said Chandrashekar.
Though the farmers wanted to proceed to the Vidhana Soudha (state secretariat building) in the city centre where the legislative session is being held, the police prevented them from proceeding from the Freedom Park due to a ban order and heavy security in the city centre.
“We will continue the agitation till the Centre and state government withdraw their bills, which are anti-farmer and anti-people,” reiterated Chandrashekar.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), and Left parties, trade unions, truck owners’ associations and auto unions have declared their support to the shutdown call in solidarity with the farmers.
Alleging that amendments to both the acts would benefit more corporates and multinational firms, Chandrashekar said the state and Central governments were taking anti-agriculture and anti-farmer decisions unilaterally.
“The amendments will deprive the farmers from getting better prices for their produce,” Chandrashekar claimed.
Defending the amendments, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had said earlier that the revised APMC Act would empower the farmers to sell their produce for the best price in the APMC yard or outside it.
“The amended APMC Act will lift restrictions on sale of farm produce and allow farmers to sell their crop in the APMC yard or in private markets where they can get the best price,” Yediyurappa said.
Noting that the amended Act would benefit the farmers in improving their income and reduce losses due to market fluctuations, the Chief Minister said the new law would also protect them from volatile market trends.
“It will help farmers in doubling their income, as wished by the Prime Minister,” Yediyurappa said.
The amendment will not dilute the powers or the work of APMCs, as all marketing activities will be monitored by the state APMC director.
Clarifying that his government was not removing the APMCs or the Act governing their activities, the Chief Minister said only two sections of the law were being amended to enable farmers sell their produce in markets where they get maximum remuneration.
“The new law will stop exploitation of farmers by market forces, middlemen and commission agents and prevent them from selling their produce in distress when prices fall. They can sell their produce to those who pay them the highest price,” Yediyurappa pointed out.
The state cabinet on June 12 agreed to amend the Land Reforms Act to allow all citizens to purchase agricultural lands for farming or growing vegetables and fruits.