The Centre on Monday asked all states and Union Territories to tighten security for the December 8 Bharat Bandh called by the farmers’ unions to protest against the three new agriculture laws, PTI reported.

The states and Union Territories were told that peace and tranquillity must be maintained during the strike. An home ministry official told PTI that states have been directed to take precautionary measures so that no untoward incident takes place anywhere in the country.

In its advisory, the Union Home Ministry also said that the respective governments must ensure that the Covid-19 guidelines issued with regard to health and physical distancing are strictly followed.

A number of Opposition parties said on Sunday that they would support the call for the Bharat Bandh. The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, four Left parties, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are among the parties who have extended their support.

Besides, worker and trade unions – Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre and Trade Union Coordination Centre – have also lent their support to the farmers’ stir.

The call for a bandh was given on December 4, a day before the farmers and the government met for their fifth round of talks. As part of the agitation, farmers said they would block all the roads leading up to Delhi. The toll plazas will also be occupied and protests against the central government and corporate houses will intensify.

The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.

Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for over ten days, demanding the government should abolish the new legislations. They fear the new policies could pave the way for the government to stop buying grains at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.

The Centre, which claims the laws would revitalise India’s agrarian economy by boosting produce, has made several attempts to placate the farmers. But five rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse so far. The agitation continued and another round of negotiations is scheduled for December 9.