A high alert has been sounded in western Uttar Pradesh for Friday when farmers' groups and opposition political parties have organised 'Bharat Bandh', against three farm bills passed by Parliament.
The agitation has brought together various farmers groups in the region against the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, passed by Parliament during the curtailed monsoon session that ended on Wednesday.
A three-day rail blockade is being organised in Punjab that will continue until Saturday to protest against the bills that the government says will liberalise agricultural trade but farmers allege will promote corporate interests over their's.
Though no major farmer organization has given a call for protest in Uttar Pradesh, security has been beefed up along the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi-Punjab-Haryana border as a precautionary measure.
Farmer leader Naresh Tikait said cultivators in western Uttar Pradesh on Friday would "aggressively" participate in the Bharat Bandh and will block the movement of traffic in their strongholds.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have deployed additional security personnel in the western part of the state to maintain law and order, officials said.
The Samajwadi Party has asked its cadres to support the protests against the farm bills by submitting memoranda to the Governor though the district magistrates in every district.
In a statement, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav asked farmers and labourers to come together on the occasion but maintain social distancing during the agitation.
He said that while the farm bills would force the farmers to sell their produce at throwaway prices, the amendment in the labour laws would allow companies with 300 employees or less, to lay off workers.
The Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress has also announced state-wide protests from Friday to October 31 in support of the farmers.
UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu said that Congress workers, along with farmers, will gherao Vidhan Sabha on Monday.
He said that the farm bills passed in parliament without debate is the "biggest ever act of betrayal of farmers, who have now been left at the mercy of market and capitalist forces".
He said that there is no mention of the minimum support price (MSP) in all the three laws, which will ring the death knell for the vegetable and fruit growers and farmers who will be compelled to sell their produce at the rates decided by capitalists. By destroying the existing system of grain, vegetable and fruits market, the government is hell bent upon crippling the farm ecosystem to benefit capitalists. He said the 'mandis' ensure proper rate and weight for farmers, which the BJP wants to dismantle.
The Congress party has demanded that under the 'One Nation, One Support Price', one rate should be fixed for grains, fruits and vegetables for the state and the whole of the country as well. The provision of the MSP should be incorporated in new legislation and should be ensured that farmers do not get less than the MSP against any of their produce.