Total bandh in Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar and Bathinda against Centre’s farm bills
The usually bustling city of Amritsar wore a deserted look on Friday with shops and offices closed and vendors off the streets as the district observed a total bandh in support of the call given by farmer organisations against the Centre’s bills to liberalise the farm sector.
Police personnel were deployed at key points in town to ensure law and order. Transport services were hit and government departments besides banks and private companies reported low attendance as most residents chose to stay home. Government offices were partially closed.
A few devotees turned up to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in the morning. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) announced that its offices will remain closed in support of the bandh call.
Farmers and allied organisations staged demonstrations at Bhandari Bridge, whichis situated at the heart of the city. Panthic organisations such as the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), a splinter group of the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal, and the Dal Khalsa also held demonstrations at the bridge.
Implementing a chakka jam, SAD leaders blocked roads and held gatherings in their respective assembly constituencies in the district. The bandh was also successful in Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts of Majha region. In Gurdaspur, Congress leaders, including MLAs, joined the protests, while SAD workers blocked the national highway on the bypass road.
Tepid response in Pathankot
The bandh garnered a lukewarm response in Pathankot, which is a stronghold of the BJP. The area is dominated by businessmen and traders. However, two of three MLAs in the region are affiliated with the Congress, which has supported the bandh call.
Almost all shops and outlets remained open in Pathankot town. Few farmer groups staged agitations on the outskirts, but it did not affect routine life. Of the two primary trader organisations in the region, one group supported the bandh while the other opposed it.
FARMERS BLOCK HIGHWAYS IN PATIALA DISTRICT
Farmers blocked state and national highways in Patiala district since morning as commercial activities came to a halt in response to the farmers’ bandh call on Friday.
The farmers parked their tractor-trolleys on roads across Patiala district to block traffic. Several allied organisations came out in support of the farmers and gathered at Shambu barrier, bordering Haryana, on the Jalandhar-Delhi national highway.
Punjabi singers joined the demonstration at Nabha.
COMPLETE BANDH IN DOABA
The four districts of Doaba region, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, observed a complete bandh. The farmers and trade union members held protests at the sub-division level.
Members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union blocked the highway in Phillaur, while roads in Jalandhar town wore a deserted look with markets closed.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee held a massive protest at Lohian Khas in Shahkot. Congress MLAs from Jalandhar cantonment and Shahkot, Pargat Singh and Hardev Singh Laddi, respectively, took out rallies in support of the farmers.
Hundreds of farmers gathered at Phagwara and held an agitation.
Satnam Singh Sahni, the general secretary the Doaba Kisan Union, blocked the highway near Sugar Mill Chowk.
In Adampur, the Shiromani Akali Dal held a protest and blocked the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur highway. Adampur MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu said the protest will continue till the Narendra Modi government revokes the bills.
ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES HIT IN MALWA
The supply of essential items, such as milk and vegetables, was disrupted in south Malwa due to the farmers’ agitation. Markets, petrol pumps and shops in Bathinda and adjoining districts remained shut.
Activists of farmer organisations held a dharna at Bhai Ghanaiya Chowk, snapping road connectivity with the rest of Punjab and adjoining Rajasthan and Haryana. Protesters used tractor-trolleys to block national highway-54 and NH-7.
The Bathinda district administration deployed a large number of police personnel with fire tenders and riot control preparedness near the dharna site.
No untoward incident was reported.
Farmers held protests in neighbouring Faridkot, Muktsar, Fazilka and Ferozepur.
Mansa, a hotbed of agitations by Left-leaning trade unions, also witnessed huge gatherings of protesters. Agitators held a dharna on rail tracks, too.
Massive turnout in Hoshiarpur
All commercial establishments in Hoshiarpur remained shuttered and different political and social outfits joined the protest against farm ordinances. Farmers took out a march across the city and held a massive rally at the Phagwara Bypass. They were joined by different ethnic groups and employee organisations.
SAD held rallies in all seven assembly constituencies while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) activists staged a protest at Phagwara Chowk.
In Chabbewal, SAD and local leaders affiliated with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BSP clashed over banner display and held separate rallies at the same place.
Heavy police force was deployed to avert clashes between the two groups. Farmers also blocked the national highway in Tanda and Mukerian.