Bharat Bandh Against Farm Laws: Farmers Block Highways and Railroads Across States
Farmers blocked major highways and squatted on rail tracks in many states, including Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, during the Bharat bandh called on Monday by farmers’ organizations to protest new farm laws. The national strike began at 6 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m.
Business establishments remained closed and public transport traffic was affected in many places as major highways and railroads were blocked by protesters.
The effect of the bandh has been felt most around Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, the center of agricultural protests, as well as in large pockets of Kerala, Bihar, from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
The movement of 25 trains has been affected due to the bandh, officials told PTI News Agency, adding: â€œMore than 20 locations have been blocked in the Delhi, Ambala and Firozepur divisions. Officials said the Delhi-Amritsar Shan-e-Punjab, New Delhi-Moga Express, Old Delhi-Pathankot Express, Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Katra and Amritsar Shatabdi trains were among the affected trains.
In the Northwest Railway Area, rail traffic on the Rewari-Bhiwani, Bhiwani-Rohtak, Bhiwani-Hisar and Hanumangarh-Sadulpur-Sriganganagar-Fatuhi sections has been affected due to the agitation of farmers.
BKU chief Rakesh Tikait said the bandh had been a huge success. â€œOur Bharat bandh has succeeded. We had the full support of the farmersâ€¦ We cannot seal everything because we have to facilitate the movement of people. We are ready to discuss with the government but no discussion is underway â€, he declared, quoted by the PTI.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha said there had been an unprecedented response to the farmers’ call for bandh.
Meanwhile, as farmers across the country staged protests, Congress urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to speak to restless farmers and listen to their legitimate grievances.
Congress also alleged that instead of redressing farmers’ grievances, the government is trying to portray them as enemies of the country and that is why farmers are protesting on the roads.
Expressing support for the protesting farmers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the farmers’ non-violent â€œsatyagrahaâ€ was still resolute.
Posting rhyming lines in Hindi on Twitter, Gandhi said: “Kisano ka ahimsak satyagraha aaj bhi akhand hai, lekin shoshankar sarkar ko ye nahi pasand hai, isliye aaj Bharat Bandh hai (the non-violent satyagraha of the government does not like that and that is why it is Bharat Bandh today).
“We must stand in solidarity with farmers, otherwise the future of our nation is bleak,” Congressman Pawan Khera told reporters.
In Delhi, a section of trade unions and civil society groups staged a protest in Jantar Mantar. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coordinating body of more than 40 agricultural unions leading the agitation against contentious tree laws, called on people to join the bandh on Thursday.
Holding banners that read â€œLong Live Farmers Unity,â€ demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws and equal opportunities for all, protesters staged a march in Jantar Mantar. Organizations such as the Central Council of Trade Unions of India (AICCTU), Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha, Janwadi Mahila Samiti and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) participated in protest and also raised their voices against issues other than those related to farmers.
Parts of the nation’s capital witnessed rumbling traffic in the morning hours as police closed some key roads to avoid untoward incidents during the bandh. Commuters had difficulty crossing the city’s borders, especially the Delhi-Gurgaon border. Traffic on DND was also affected. The Ghazipur border is closed to vehicular traffic and all traffic is diverted to the DND and Apsara border for Noida and Ghaziabad respectively.
There was chaos on a causeway on the national road coming from the border from Ghazipur to Sarai Kale Khan near Akshardham Mandir.
However, markets remained open and business activities were hardly affected in the nation’s capital, despite traffic jams due to roadblocks by protesters and security checks by police.
Automobile and taxi unions as well as several traders’ organizations only provided “support in principle” to Bharat Bandh and decided not to join the strike, claiming that their livelihoods had already been reached. been hit hard due to the pandemic and the lockdown.
Punjab and Haryana
Across Punjab and Haryana, protests were held in more than 350 locations. Markets were also closed in most parts of Punjab, with the exception of Mohali and Chandigarh, where markets in the area were open. The railway division of Ferozepur had to cancel 14 passenger trains. Four trains were interrupted while eight express trains were canceled. There was also commotion on the highways and connecting roads.
Students from Punjabi Patiala University and Guru Nanak Dev Amritsar University also organized protests in favor of farmers.
Many workers were unable to come to their workplaces because of the dharnas. Pankaj Sharma, vice president of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Enterprises, said: â€œI don’t know why the government is not fixing the problem of the farmers. Many were unable to get to their places of work due to the protest.
The 32 unions of SKM, BKU Ugrahan and Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee organized protests in many places.
SKM member Dr Darshan Pal said: â€œProtests have been taking place at the Delhi borders for 10 months, but to no avail. Monday’s bandh was another effort to try and wake the government from its sleep. We will not give up until all three farm laws are repealed.
At the Tikri border, protests took place at Bahadurgarh station in Haryana as farmers sat on the rails of Jagraon, Barnala, Mansa and Sangrur. Congress, AAP and SAD-BSP have provided support to the bandh.
The bandh elicited mixed responses in Maharashtra Monday, with symbolic demonstrations organized in many places.
The ruling Congress and the NCP supported the bandh, but the Shiv Sena remained elusive on the issue.
The ruling NCP organized symbolic demonstrations to express its solidarity with the farmers. State NCP chief and water resources minister Jayant Patil participated in protests organized by his party unit in Aurangabad. At a public meeting, Patil led workers wearing black badges to stage a symbolic protest.
Patil said: â€œThe NCP supports the bandh to highlight the plight of farmers. In protest, we not only held demonstrations, but also wore black badges. “
The effect of the bandh was visible in many districts of Rajasthan, including Ganganagar and Hanumangarh, dominated by agriculture, where the main mandis and markets remained closed. Farmers organized rallies on the main roads and held meetings.
The shutdown affected many districts in the state, including Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Bikaner, Sikar and Nagaur. Mandis and markets have been partially closed in towns and villages in these neighborhoods.
Restless farmers blocked main roads and held meetings. The bandh also affected rail services in border districts. In Jaipur, farmers led by Union Bharatiya Kisan (BKU) staged a rally on tractor-drawn trucks.
Highways, roads and railroads were blocked in several places in Bihar on Monday as the bandh spoke of a mixed response in the state. RJD and Congress workers blocked roads in Patna, Bhojpur, Lakhisarai, Jahanabad, East Champaran, Begusarai, Madhepura and Nalanda districts, affecting traffic.
In Patna, RJD workers blocked the road near Buddha Smriti Park, burning tires to protest the three agricultural laws. However, they were quickly deported, a police officer said. Members of the RJD and CPI have also blocked rail lines in Patna, Ara, Jahanabad and Madhepura.
“Adequate security personnel have been deployed to stations and other sensitive locations across the state to verify any untoward incidents,” an official told PTI.
Markets were open, while government and private offices registered regular attendance. Public transport has also remained largely untouched. However, most of the state’s private schools remained closed due to the 10-hour bandh called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.
In Jharkhand, vehicle traffic was disrupted in several places, with bandh supporters blocking roads and highways. Stores were closed in the state capital, Ranchi, while government offices and banks functioned as usual.
In Ramgarh district, protesters blocked the Ranch-Patna highway and Ramgarh-Bokaro highway for some time, disrupting traffic, SP Prabhat Kumar told PTI. Several roads in the district were blocked by employees of JMM, CPI, RJD and Congress, causing traffic jams on the freeways.
The bandh, however, elicited a lukewarm reaction in Madhya Pradesh and Goa. Eyewitnesses said road traffic was normal in the state capital, Bhopal, and the Indore shopping center.
However, speaking to the PTI, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, national chairman of Shivkumar Kakkaji, said: â€œThe bandh called by the farmers against the three laws and to demand an MSP guarantee for the crops has succeeded.
He further claimed that the outfit allowed for a loosening of the closure of Bhopal as most of its residents are employees (private and public sectors) and not farmers, but the protest was successful in small towns dominated by the community. agriculture in the region of Nimar, Shahdol, Umaria, Raisen and Silwani.
In Goa, all services, including public transport, banks, trains and commercial establishments, were functioning normally. â€œThere were no protests. Life has remained normal, â€said a police officer quoted by PTI.
(With contributions from ENS and agencies)