The day-long Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on Monday to mark one year of the passing of the new farm laws and the farmers' agitation ended at 4 p.m. Traffic resumed on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway which was closed by the agitating farmers since morning. The Bharat Bandh was called by the farmers union from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Talking to IANS, Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that we are hopeful that this government will listen to us after the nationwide Bharat Bandh. He said that all farmers across the nation have supported the bandh. It was supported by over 100 farmer unions, 15 trade unions, political parties and several state governments.
Farmers leader Yogendra Yadav said the bandh was successful across the nation. He said, 'Today's Bharat Bandh will prove a milestone in the history of farmers agitation. We have earned the support of farmers throughout the country." He added that the agitation is now reaching the far flung areas of India and all are supporting us against the new farm laws.
Despite the bandh, public transport was operational in the national capital. DTC buses, Delhi Metro, auto-rickshaws and other modes of public and private transport were running smoothly in the city. Barring the four entry points to the capital that were blocked by the farmers, all communications remained normal.
The farmers had exempted emergency services, all essential services, medical emergency and rescue and relief work including personal emergency from the bandh. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha had assured that the bandh will be enforced in a voluntary and peaceful manner.
No Traffic Disruption At UP-Delhi Chilla Border
Unlike several entry points into the national capital from adjoining states the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh Chilla border connecting with the Gautam Budh Nagar district did not face any traffic snarls due to the Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Monday.
The farmers bodies are protesting against the three contentious farm laws and marked one year of the union laws passed without favour from the farmer community.
According to the Noida Police, there were no traffic disrpution at the Chilla border or on the DND flyway.
"All government offices and educational institutes were functioning normally. Even all markets remained open," a Noida police official told IANS adding that public transport buses were also plying throughout the city.
The expressways, including the Yamuna Expressway, which connects Greater Noida to the interior districts of Uttar Pradesh like Mathura, Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, remained open and traffic was moving without any hindrance, the official added.
Earlier the Noida traffic police though issued an advisory that the traffic movement was closed from UP's Ghaziabad to Delhi due to Bharat Bandh.
"The traffic going to Delhi from Ghaziabad district will be able to go to its destination via Gautam Budh Nagar district," the advisory read.
10-Hour Shutdown In Punjab, Haryana Gets Enormous Response
The 10-hour nationwide shutdown on Monday on the call by farmers' unions to demand scrapping of three Central farm laws got enormous response in Punjab and Haryana where tens of thousands of farmers blocked major highways, including National Highway 1 linking Delhi.
Shops and other commercial establishments were closed in most towns as traders extended their support to the agitating farmers. They opened their establishments only after the shutdown was over.
However, there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the states. Emergency medical services were exempted from the blockade.
But traffic across Punjab and Haryana was hit badly for several hours as farmers, farm labourers, commission agents, trade and employee unions and activists of political parties squatted on national highways from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The protesting farmers parked their tractors on highways and major link roads in both Punjab and Haryana and squatted on the road.
Even an Indian Army convoy was halted for half an hour in Jalandhar town with farmers allowing it to move ahead after checking documents.
Heavy police presence was seen at various places in Haryana and Punjab to maintain law and order.
The police diverted traffic at several places as the farmers blocked the highways.
Hundreds of people had a harrowing time as buses, taxis and trains did not ply due to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM)-called Bharat Bandh.
Commuters were left stranded at railway stations and bus stands in various towns and cities as public transport did not ply. People were forced to trudge with heavy luggage and office-goers too were hit hard.
State roadways, private buses and taxis were off the roads, causing misery to thousands of passengers.
Buses remained parked at bus stands or bus depots, and passengers were left stranded.
Auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws made a quick buck from people wanting to reach their destination on time.
Most of the roads across the two states, including in joint capital Chandigarh, wore a near-deserted look.
While most of the private schools were shut, the attendance at government offices was negligible.
"We have decided not to attend office owing to the closure of all major road links that started early in the morning," said Nisha Singh, a government employee, who daily commutes from her hometown Kharar to Chandigarh.
The worst affected places were Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur and Moga.
In neighbouring Haryana, there were reports of protesters blocking highways in Ambala, Karnal, Panipat, Sirsa, Fatehabad and Kurukshetra districts.
The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament last year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.
The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.
Bharat Bandh Peaceful In Maharashtra, Evokes Mixed Response
Maharashtra witnessed a mixed response to the 10-hour-long Bharat Bandh called by Samyukta Kisan Morcha having support of all non-BJP parties, here on Monday.
While the SKM action elicited fair to good participation in the semi-rural and rural areas, the response ranged from dull to negligible in semi-urban or urban centres of the state but remained peaceful all over with tight police deployment.
Large number of farmers, labourers and political activists came out in huge numbers in districts like Thane, Palghar, Nashik, Nandurbar, Dhule, Pune, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Solapur and others, but in most urban centres like Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, life was near-normal.
The SKM leaders and organisers said that while the Bharat Bandh was total in Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Kerala and others states with a complete shutdown, it got extensive support in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
Farmers were supported in the nationwide agitation, trade unions, women, youth and students' organisations plus almost all major non-BJP parties across the country, with educational institutions, some government and private offices, wholesale or retail markets and other bodies remaining closed.
The SKM said that the Bharat Bandh passes off peacefully in Maharashtra and rest of India with no reports of any violence or untoward incidents, and the organisers appealed not to inconvenience the common public or disrupt essential supplies in any manner.
Top leaders like Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shivkumar Sharma, Yudhvir Singh, Yogendra Yadav, Dr Ashok Dhawale, Dr Ajit Nawale and others led the agitation in different parts of the country.
Maharashtra's ruling alliance partners Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress leaders also came out in full support of the agitation in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad and other cities.
Bharat Bandh Evokes Partial Response In Northeast
The Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha against the three contentious farm laws evoked a partial response in the Northeastern states on Monday.
In Assam, a majority of the offices, both government and private, educational institutions, shops, commercial establishments in many of the 34 districts, including the main commercial hub Guwahati, remained open barring some business establishments.
However, normal life was crippled in southern Assam as government and private offices, shops and markets and all other institutions were shut responding to the country-wide shutdown call from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Vehicular movements were normal in all the districts, except four districts in southern Assam, even as buses were seen plying in lesser numbers in Guwahati and other parts of the BJP-ruled state.
The police arrested 20 Left members in front of the Cachar district Deputy Commissioner's office. However, a large section of traders and transport operators claimed that they were not aware of the shutdown call.
The officials said that air and train services across the Northeastern region were normal and no untoward incident was reported so far.
In Tripura, the shutdown was partial even as the Left parties, Congress and other organisations, who have supported the Bharat Bandh, did not organise any picketing. The five Left parties led by the CPI-M have campaigned for the past two weeks in support of the nationwide shutdown and its significance.
All Tripura Merchants' Association General Secretary Sujit Roy told IANS that thousands of their members have not participated in the strike.
In some sub-divisional areas many shops and markets were closed, but in most parts of Tripura life was normal, but presence in government offices, banks and educational institutions were little less.
According to the police there was a minor incident in south Tripura's Belonia where a CPI-M supporter was assaulted by the ruling party activists.
There is almost no response in the other Northeastern states, including Meghalaya and Manipur. The BJP, which opposed the Bharat Bandh, has been ruling in four of the eight Northeastern states -- Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh while its allies are governing in Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.
TN Gives 'Cold Shoulder' To Bharat Bandh Call
Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and supported by the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu turned out to be a damp squib with the public not responding at all to the shutdown-call.
In urban centres of Tamil Nadu, like state capital Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Erode, Salem, Trichy, and other district capitals, there was no response to the bandh call. Vehicles, including state transport vehicles, autos, and taxis were plying as usual in Chennai and all other urban centres of Tamil Nadu.
In Kumbakonam, however, 30 Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers were arrested for blocking a train. Police arrested the CPM cadres and removed them.
In Guindy, Chennai, a group of people led by CPM Politburo member, Ramakrishnan conducted a protest march and a roadblock against the farm laws of the Government of India.
Ramakrishnan and the CPM cadres were arrested and removed by the police. In Chennai city also a group of CPM, CPI, and CPI-ML activists tried to block the road in support of the Bharat Bandh call of Samyuktha Kisan Morcha. Police arrested the cadres and removed them from the spot to ensure smooth traffic.
Police also removed some Left workers who were picketing the Mount road in support to the Bharat Bandh.
M. Pandyan a shop owner at TNagar in Chennai said, "I don't know why there is a Bandh and we don't generally shut our shops during any Bandhs except maybe a Bandh called over the water issue." He said that he was a DMK supporter but does not subscribe to the bandh call.
Kamal Haasan-led Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) cadres though were seen in large numbers protesting at various places of Chennai and Coimbatore.
K.S. Ashok Kumar, of Tambaram Chennai who is a daily wage worker and an MNM party cadre while speaking to IANS said, "We have protested in Tambaram, Mount Road, and Guindy in Chennai against the draconian farm laws. Police removed us."
DMK farmer wing general secretary, Periyasamy had made a fervent appeal to the people of Tamil Nadu to cooperate with the Bharat Bandh but it did not evoke any response.
Schools and colleges are also functioning normally in Tamil Nadu and there are no incidents of forced closure of shops or establishments in the state.
S. Sarangapani, Professor of Political science, in Erode, told IANS: "Tamil Nadu has traditionally not supported such bandhs except for bandhs called on Cauvery and issues that are directly impacting the lives of the people. Still, people are wise enough here not to shut shops and establishments and to bring life to a standstill. In a similar vein, the people of Tamil Nadu have cold-shouldered this bandh also."