Bharat Bandh impacts major roads in Ghaziabad, highways; markets remained open
The Bharat Bandh call by protesting farmers impacted traffic on roads and highways connecting Ghaziabad on Monday, while shops and business establishments stayed open. The traffic police said that their entire staff -- about 250 members, including officers -- were busy managing traffic diversions and snarls during the day.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a farmers’ collective, announced Bharat Bandh on Monday; their protesters occupied the UP-Gate area of the Delhi Meerut Expressway (Delhi-Ghaziabad carriageway) from 6am to around 4.15pm.
“Our protesters also staged sit-ins on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Delhi Meerut Expressway (DME), besides the Delhi-Meerut Road. Our call was largely successful. We, however, did not stop any emergency services. We regret the inconvenience to commuters but would like to say that our agitation--which has been going on for the past 10 months--is for them,” said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, farmer leader and UP-Gate site spokesperson from Samyukta Kisan Morcha.
As protesters closed DME down at UP-Gate, commuters were forced to use other border roads near EDM Mall, Anand Vihar, Surya Nagar, and Seemapuri to travel to Ghaziabad, Meerut, and other cities from Delhi.
On the Delhi-Meerut Road, connecting Ghaziabad to Meerut, protesting farmers blocked the Duhai area below the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, causing long traffic snarls.
Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) confirmed that traffic was thrown out of gear on several roads.
“Farmers staged sit-ins at many spots of the DME. Vehicular movement was also affected on Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Dasna to Hapur section of the DME,” said Mudit Garg, project director, NHAI.
The Ghaziabad traffic police said that the sit-in by protesting farmers ended around 4.15pm.
“Our entire staff, including traffic inspectors, traffic sub-inspectors and other personnel, remained deployed throughout the day to control traffic snarls on Delhi-Meerut Road, Gaur City intersection, Wave City intersection, Duhai, and other parts of the Delhi-Meerut Road,” said Ramanand Kushwaha, superintendent of police (traffic).
He added that due to the blockade of the DME, vehicles coming from Delhi were routed through other border roads around Ghaziabad.
Since November last year, farmers, under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, have been protesting against three new farm laws--The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act--at the Capital’s borders. They have been demanding the rollback of the laws and the creation of a new law on minimum support price (MSP).
Farmers called the Bharat Bandh on the first anniversary of the enactment of the three farm laws.
“If need be, we will continue our ongoing protest for the next 10 years. People will say that the Bharat Bandh was a flop, but it is not the case. It has been successful. As part of the protest, we only held up roads and it was not like sealing the roads. If the union agriculture minister calls us for talks, we will go,” said Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Farmer union leaders and the Central government have held as many as 11 rounds of talks, but each time the talks have ended in a stalemate.
The last time the two parties held talks was on January 22.
Meanwhile, traders in major markets of Ghaziabad said that they did not shut their shutters or support the Bharat Bandh, because they had already suffered financial losses when they had to shut down operations due to pandemic-related restrictions last year.
“Our traders have already been facing losses since last year due to the pandemic. So we kept our shops open and did not support the Bharat Bandh call. There were traffic disruptions, which delayed the arrival of our employees at shops, but shops were not closed,” said Pradeep Gupta, convener of Vyapari Ekta Samiti, a traders’ union in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.
At the city’s biggest market in Turab Nagar, shops were open as usual, but traders’ association members said that footfall was low.
“The general footfall is about 20,000-25,000. But it was reduced to almost 50% on Monday. Customers probably avoided coming to the market due to the bandh call. But all our shops remained open,” said Rajneesh Bansal, chairperson of Turab Nagar Vyapar Mandal.