Farmers Call for Bharat Bandh on Feb 16: All You Need to Know

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Farmer unions across India have given a call for One Day Nation Wide Shutdown / Bharat Bandh on February 16th to intensify their protest and push the government to accept their key demands. This Bandh has been organized by the “Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM)”. It is a coalition of over 40 farmer groups, along with support from trade unions and other organizations.

What is the timing of the Bharat Bandh?

On February 16, the bandh will be held from 6 AM to 4 PM. It aims to shut down All activities and services across the country during this period only, except for essential emergency services

Which services are likely to be impacted During Bharat Bandh?

  • Public transport and Roadways will be closed so local transportation disturbance is expected.
  • Shops, markets, offices, factories, and other commercial establishments may remain shut
  • Agricultural and related activities will be halted as farmers join the protest
  • Banking operations may be hit

However, emergency services like healthcare, police, fire brigade as well as essential needs related to weddings, examinations etc. will be allowed without disruptions.

What will happen during the Bharat Bandh?

In addition shutdown of the services major Highways and roads from 12 Noon onwards till 4 PM as part of the bandh. This is likely to severely impact traffic movement, especially in the northern states.

Processions, rallies, public meetings, and other protest activities have been planned for the day to draw support for the farmers’ issues.

Bharat Bandh Protest Image
Credit: PTI

Why did farmers call for this nationwide Bharat Bandh?

The key demands behind this protest action are:
Legal guarantee of Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for specified crops

  • Complete waiver of farm loans
  • Withdrawing the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill 2020
  • Removing penalties for stubble burning
  • Compensations for families of farmers who died during the 2020-21 protests
  • Pension scheme for aged farmers and farm workers
  • Allocation of funds for developing agriculture infrastructure

Besides the above, reimbursements for expenditures incurred during last year’s protests and arrests are another demand by farmers.

Despite multiple rounds of talks between SKM representatives and the Union Government, there has been no progress in getting formal assurances on the above issues from the authorities

This lack of response has compelled farmer groups under the SKM banner to intensify their agitation through this nationwide Bharat Bandh.

Which states are likely to see major impact?

With the large number of participating unions from states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan these northern states are likely to take a major hit.

Southern states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu will also see widespread support for the shutdown call.

Has there been political support for the Bharat Bandh call?

Several opposition political parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left Front, Trinamool Congress, and others have announced their formal support for the nationwide strike. This shows the increasing unity across different political groups backing the farmers’ issues.

Some partners of state ruling governments such as the JJP party in Haryana have also expressed their approval and backing. However, BJP leaders and Uttar Pradesh government representatives have strongly criticized and rejected the bandh call, stating it to be more of a political drama.

What arrangements are being made by local authorities?

Since major trouble is expected during the shutdown, local police and city officials have increased security measures and changed traffic routes near state border entry areas of big cities like Delhi to stop protesting farmers from entering.

Some state governments have released warnings advising people to keep necessary items ready in advance. A few board exams earlier scheduled for 16th Feb have also been postponed as a cautionary step.

At certain locations, shuttle transport arrangements are being arranged to allow emergency travel for medical, exam, or airport commute requirements. As discussions between government representatives and farmer leaders failed to make progress, the bandh on Feb 16th is likely to showcase the farmers’ unity and strength.

What next after the Bharat Bandh?

In their most recent message, SKM leaders have indicated that a non-stop unlimited protest might be started after the strike if government response continues to be weak.

However, some farmer leaders have taken a more peaceful approach asking authorities to have an open and positive discussion on the issues bothering the agricultural sector – mainly ensuring stable income through MSP.

A lot will depend on the impact of the one-day symbolic action on 16th Feb and the response it receives across India’s towns and villages. A violence-free bandh leading to fresh talks could open opportunities for addressing the worries raised by farmers.

FAQ On Farmers Call for Bharat Bandh:

  1. What is the date of the Bharat Bandh?

    February 16, 2024

  2. What is the duration of Bharat Bandh?

    From 6 AM to 4 PM

  3. Which services are likely closed during the bandh?

    Transportation, markets, banking.

  4. What are the key demands of protesting farmers?

    MSP guarantee, loan waiver, reversing electricity bill.

  5. Which states are likely to have a major impact of Bharat Bandh?

    Punjab, Haryana, UP and other northern states.

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