To mark a year of the Centre’s three farm laws, famers early on Monday began a “Bharat Bhandh”, following a nationwide call by farmer unions demanding scrapping of the legislations.
Hundreds of farmers gathered at various places across the country blocking national highways, including those connecting Delhi to Punjab and Haryana, squatting on railway tracks and roads leading to traffic diversions and disruptions in vehicular movement. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of the farmer unions, had called for a “Bharat Bandh” till 4 pm today.
Heavy police presence was seen, especially in Haryana and Punjab, to maintain law and order.
With farmers blocking national highways and major link roads in both Punjab and Haryana, police have diverted the traffic at several places.
Delhi Traffic Police has said the vehicular movement has been closed from Uttar Pradesh towards Ghazipur. Gurugram saw major traffic congestion due to the heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces.
Delhi-Amritsar National Highway has been blocked at Shahabad in Haryana’s Kurukshetra.
The National Highway 44 in Haryana had also been blocked.
On the Tikri boder, farmers sat on the railway tracks at Bahadurgarh railway station.
Rail operations in Delhi, Ambala and Firozepur divisions were impacted with people sitting on tracks. More than 20 railway tracks in Delhi were blocked by protesting farmers. Over 20 trains in the Ambala and Firozepur division have been affected, according to Northern Railway.
Farmers have also blocked the Shambhu border on the Punjab-Haryana border.
“In view of the Bharat bandh call by protesting farmers, we have blocked the Shambhu border till 4 pm,” a protesting farmer said.
The police have been deployed at all the locations where farmers are protesting, forces have been deployed since 5 am, Amritsar Police informed.
“At all locations where farmers are protesting, forces have been deployed since 5 am. Farmers’ protests are peaceful, so forces have also been told to not behave untowardly with them and bring to my notice if something happens,” Police Inspector Sanjeev Kumar said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait has urged people to come out of their houses after lunchtime and appealed to the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed for now and open only after 4 pm.
The traffic movement has been closed from Uttar Pradesh towards Ghazipur due to farmers’ protests at the border.
Speaking to ANI, Tikait said, “Bharat bandh has been organised to send our message to the government. Ambulances, doctors or those going for an emergency can pass through. We have not sealed down anything. We appeal to the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed for now and open only after 4 pm. No farmer is coming here from outside.”
The BKU leader also informed that they have not planned any marches.
“The government will have to accept our demand, they have to in the coming 10 months,” he added.
Various opposition leaders have lent their support to the farmers’ “Bharat Bandh”.
RJD leader Mukesh Raushan and other members and workers of the party protested in Bihar’s Hajipur, in support of Bharat Bandh.
Traffic congestion was seen on Hajipur-Muzaffarpur road and the movement on Mahatma Gandhi Setu in Patna was affected too.
All government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments as well as public events and functions will be closed throughout the country.
However, exemptions to the bandh include all emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies.