Kerala observes Bharat Bandh today; What's open, what's not?

Public transport including buses, taxis, and auto-rickshaws are likely to remain off the road. File photo.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is observing 'Bharat Bandh' today to extend its support to the nationwide farmers strike demanding the repeal of the farm laws.

Both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the main opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) have extended their support for the bandh which will be observed from 6 am to 6 pm on Monday.

The state's BJP unit, however, has stayed away, denouncing the strike as "anti-people".

What's allowed, what's not:

The government has categorically said that the movement of private vehicles will not be obstructed.

Essential services including shops and establishments selling milk, medical shops, and newspapers will function.

Public transport including buses, taxis, and auto-rickshaws will be off the road.

Earlier, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had said that it will run limited local services with police escort on major routes focusing on hospitals, railway stations and airports.

Long-distance bus services will resume after 6 pm, the KSRTC said.

The state had already announced that all university examinations scheduled for Monday have been postponed.

'5 lakh people in the protest'

LDF convenor and CPM acting-secretary A Vijayaraghavan had said that five lakh people will be participating in the protest.

Every trade union except the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will be participating in the hartal.

Over 100 organisations including motor transport workers, bank employees and farmers organisations have extended their support to the LDF agitation.

The organisers have claimed that there will not be forced shutting down of shops.

However, with both UDF and LDF coming together to support the Bandh, shops and establishments are expected to remain shut.

Kerala Police is on high alert to prevent untoward incidents.

Hartal illegal?

The High Court of Kerala on Friday dismissed a PIL filed by a Sasthamkotta native seeking to declare hartal as illegal.

Leader of Opposition, VD Satheeshan, said it was imperative to support the farmers who are protesting. He called upon people to support the farmers who were fighting against the "draconian" farm laws.

Bandh against 3 contentious farm laws

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the farmers' agitation, had announced 'Bharat Bandh' with the aim of strengthening and expanding the nationwide farmers' protests, which began in November last year.

The bandh calls for the repeal of the three contentious farm laws that the famers fear would do away with the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.

The farmers are also seeking a legal guarantee for MSP.

In addition, they are also seeking the cancellation of all police cases against farmers, the rollback of "electricity bill and pollution bill" and for reducing prices of diesel, petrol and gas.

The government and farmer unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers' protest.

Talks have not resumed following widespread violence during a tractor rally by farmers on January 26 when protesters had stormed the Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag on the ramparts.

Many non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance - the political coalition that the BJP spearheads) parties including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left parties and Swaraj India has extended support to the nationwide 10-hour strike on Monday.

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