Nearly all trade unions in Punjab have announced to shut their commercial establishments on Tuesday to extend their support to the Bharat bandh call given by the farmers who have been protesting at the Delhi border for the last 11 days against the Centre’s three agriculture laws.
The trade unions have been helping the farmer organisations garner support for the complete shutdown. The Punjab Arhtiya Association has also directed its members across the state to shut down their businesses for a day.
Also, truck unions, petrol pump associations and labour unions extended their support to the call. Besides, all major political parties in the state — the ruling Congress, opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (AAP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — have asked their workers to make the bandh a success.
Punjab Pradesh Vyapar Mandal state president Seth Pyare Lal said it is the moral responsibility of the traders to stand with the farmers in such a crisis. “Though the traders will face financial losses due to a shutdown but since the whole economy of cities and towns is based on farmers, we are with the fraternity. The association has directed its district units to support the farmers,” he said.
The Centre must resolve the issue at the earliest as the protests are affecting businesses on the whole, he added.
Jaswinder Singh Rana, general secretary of the Punjab Arhtiya Association, said they are also asking the commission agents to visit Delhi before December 9 to stage dharnas with farmers against the laws.
“These laws are not only anti-farmer but also against the arhatiyas. Our livelihood is completely dependent upon the farmers. If they lose their land, how will we survive? These laws will gradually make the minimum support price (MSP) redundant and thus decimate Punjab agriculture economy” he asked.
Rakesh Gupta, an office-bearer of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, said they coordinated with sister associations and then decided to support the farmers.
“The farmers are our backbone as our trade and commerce completely depends on the rural economy. Earlier, it was demonetisation and GST and now these farm laws. Our businesses are going to suffer a lot as nobody from rural areas will come to markets if the farmers are not paid assured amount for their produce,” he said.
Patiala-based trader Abhishek Gupta said there has been a sharp drop in the number of customers from rural areas since the farmers’ agitation started.
Satnam Singh Bheru, president of the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Association, said they are receiving a huge response from the traders.
“It is a do-and-die battle for the farmers. We are not going to relent and will take this fight to its logical conclusion,” he said.