Malls, markets open in Noida despite Bharat Bandh call
Malls and markets remained open in Noida and Greater Noida on Monday despite farmers’ call for Bharat Bandh on the first anniversary of the enactment of three contentious farm laws.
The farmers’ protest mostly impacted the Greater Noida area, authorities said.
Traffic officials said that a group of farmers reached Zero Point with several tractors to protest, which halted vehicular movement for some time on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway. The officials also said that vehicular movement was slow at the DND Flyway and Chilla border during peak traffic hours in the morning as Delhi Police had set up barricades to check vehicles from 8am to 11am.
Ashutosh Singh, Noida traffic inspector, said, “Personnel of Noida Police reached the spot and facilitated vehicular movement. They also ensured smooth traffic in Greater Noida and there was no major traffic jam reported,” he said.
However, authorities said, there was no impact of the Bharat Bandh on the markets. Shamim Anwar, spokesperson, GIP Mall, said that the mall was open on Monday. “Shoppers visited the mall like on normal days. We also held a vaccination camp on the premises, which functioned normally,” he said.
The DLF Mall of India spokesperson chose not to comment on the issue and just said the mall was open on Monday.
SK Jain, president, Sector 18 market association, said that there are around 500 shops in the market and most of them were open. “The retailers did not participate in this Bandh. This is not our issue and hence all the shops were open. Also, the farmers or anyone else did not come to the market to enforce the closure,” he said.
Jain said that the markets had already remained closed for several months when pandemic-related restrictions were in force since March last year, leading to severe financial losses. He said closing shops again, even for a day, would lead to difficulties for traders.
Similarly, there was no impact of Bandh at the Atta Market in Sector 27. CB Jha, president of Atta Market association, said that the market functioned normally on Monday. “There are 700 shops in the market and most were open. There was good footfall as well,” he said.
Sunil Pradhan, the media in-charge of Bhartiya Kisan Union-Tikait (a farmers’ group headed by Rakesh Tikait, a farmer leader), said that farmers gathered at Pari Chowk at 10am. “We protested there from 10am to 1.30pm against the farm laws. We also parked our tractors on the road, which halted Noida-Greater Noida traffic for some time,” he said.
Pawan Khatana, BKU-Tikait spokesperson, said farmers also protested against the Greater Noida authority because the authority acquired farmers’ land nearly 10 years ago but have not yet met their demands. “The farmers have not got increased compensation or developed land. There are several companies and factories in Noida and Greater Noida. People from other states and districts get jobs here but our children are not given jobs,” he said.
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).
“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.