Bharat Bandh brings life to a standstill in Ludhiana
A year after the Centre passed the three contentious farm laws, protesting farmer unions’ call for a Bharat Bandh received an overwhelming response from residents, transporters, and roadways employees as roads, markets and malls remained deserted on Monday.
Amid heavy police deployment, farmers carried out marches in the city and forced those who had opened their businesses to shut them down. Meanwhile, farmers used tractor-trolleys, tippers and other vehicles to block roads, which caused traffic chaos, at around 25 points in and around the city and in rural areas of the district.
Protesting farmers blocked all major chowks, intersections and entry points to the city from 6am to 4pm.
The areas that were blocked include Ferozepur Road, Bharat Nagar Chowk, Jagraon Bridge, Samrala Chowk, and Jalandhar Bypass, Jodhewal Basti Chowk, Dugri Canal Bridge, Southern Bypass, Sherpur Chowk near Dhandai Bridge, Kohara Chowk, Hambran, Dehlon Main Chowk, Hari Singh Nalwa Chowk in Raikot, Barnala Chowk in Raikot, Ludhiana- Moga GT road near Jagraon, and the toll plaza near Hissowal village.
All main markets – Chaura Bazaar, Ghumar Mandi, main Sarabha Nagar market, Model Town, Gol Market, Feroze Gandhi market, Jawahar Nagar camp, BRS Nagar, and Dugri – remained shut as did malls such as Silver Arc, Pavilion, and MBD.
While a section of shopkeepers closed their shops to extend support to the farmers’ cause, others shut them down fearing reprisal. Many shopkeepers who have been financially suffering due to the pandemic were also seen sitting outside their shops with half their shutters open in Jawahar Nagar Camp, Chaura Bazar, and Field Ganj. Medical stores and vegetable vendors went about their business as usual.
Chaura Bazar shopkeepers association president Parampal Singh Witty said, “Shopkeepers are already struggling due to the pandemic and business is slowly getting back on track. Thus, farmers should not force shopkeepers to shut their businesses. We support farmers and many shopkeepers closed their shops in their support, but those who did not should not be harassed as they are trying to look after their families.”
Ghumar Mandi Shopkeepers’ Association president Pawan Batra said the market had remained closed till 4pm in support of the farmers, but had been opened after that.
A BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) leader Gurpreet Singh said the call for a ‘bandh’ had received an overwhelming response across the city and urban-area residents had joined the protesting farmers near MBD Mall. “It was never our intention to harass the public. We are glad that tthe shopkeepers extended support to our cause. Residents with emergencies were also allowed to move past the barriers. Our fight is against the Union government and it will continue till the three farm laws are not repealed,” said Singh.