Karnataka Bandh: Thousands hit street, several detained, CM Yediyurappa finally says he will talk to farmers
The farmers alleged that the amendment to the APMC Act will deprive them of minimum support price and enable multinational companies and big corporate houses to directly procure produce at their rates
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday expressed his willingness to talk to farmer leaders, as ryots staged demonstrations in several parts of the state during the Karnataka Bandh on Monday against two bills.
The Chief Minister's reaction came as pro-farmer organisations backed by a number of other social and political outfits including the Congress on Monday called for a state-wide Bandh against the amendments to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC) Act and Karnataka Land Reforms (KLR) Act passed by the State Assembly. Thousands of farmers gathered at Mysuru Bank circle and in front of Town Hall in Bengaluru,causing massive traffic jams, reported The Indian Express. Several Congress and JD (U) workers were detained during the protest and then taken to City Armed Reserve (CAR) headquarters and KSRP Parade Ground in Madiwala.
The farmers alleged that the amendment to the APMC Act will deprive them of the minimum support price and enable multinational companies and big corporate houses to directly procure produce at their rates.
"I want to tell the farmer leaders that conduct the agitation today but later come, sit with us and have a discussion.I am always ready to make changes for the benefit of farmers," the Chief Minister told a a press conference.
Describing the two amendments as anti-farmer, the protesters alleged that these laws will ruin the agriculture sector as people with moneybags will purchase agricultural land to convert their black money into white and turn agriculture land into real estate business.
Dismissing the allegation, the Chief Minister said the amendment to the APMC Act will enable farmers to sell their produce wherever they wish.
They can sell either in the APMC or sell it directly to anyone in any part of the state and the country, he explained.
"There was a time when cases were registered against farmers for selling their produce from one district to another district.We are removing these restrictions on farmers to sell their produce anywhere," the Chief Minister said.
He, however, clarified that the government was not shutting down APMCs.
"... We are only giving you complete independence so that you can sell at the APMC or sell it where they get the good price.This is a historic decision.
I appeal to our farmers' associations that whoever is misleading you,just wait for six months or a year.All the hassles in selling your produce will go," he added.
Regarding the amendment to the KLR Act, the Chief Minister said there were about 18 lakh-20 lakh acres of barren land and after this amendment, anyone can do farming.
To a question about AICC in charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala allegedly terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yediyurappa harmful to the country and Karnataka, the chief minister said, "Let Surjewala build his own party.Then let him speak about the BJP and other political parties."
He said the Congress was on decline and as a result, the BJP will rule for the next ten years.
He claimed the BJP will get absolute majority in the next election as well.
The protests were staged at important locations in Bengaluru, Ramanagara, Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara, Kolar, Chikkaballapura, Tumakuru, Ballari, Raichur, Chitradurga, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Vijayapura, Bagalkote, Bidar, Belagavi, Uttara Kannada, Udupi, Dharwad and Davangere among others.
The farmers hit the streets in groups, raised slogans, took out bike rallies, burnt tyres in protest on the road and staged sit-in at various places.
The dawn-to-dusk bandh call has been supported by several pro-Kannada and other outfits besides the opposition Congress and the JD(S), who had opposed the amendment bills in the assembly.
It is also backed by several labour organisations who are protesting amendments to certain labour laws during the brief assembly session that concluded on Saturday.
With PTI inputs