Bharat Bandh largely peaceful in borders, crowd swells at protest sites
The national capital remained largely peaceful during the Bharat Bandh on Tuesday though the crowd of protesting farmers swelled at various protest spots across the city.
The police tightened the security measures at the border points, while several shops near protest points chose to down shutters on Tuesday. Some of them said they closed their business in “solidarity” with farmers.
One of the few roads blocked by protesters on Tuesday was the NH-44. A group of young men, mostly from Delhi and a few from Punjab, blocked the highway a few kilometers before the Singhu border.
Rajesh Kalshan, a resident of Swaroop Nagar in Delhi, who was among the protesters there, said, “We had carried out a march in our neighbourhood and then thought of blocking the NH-44 as we wanted the government to take notice of the farmers’ problems.”
But senior police officers soon reached the spot and urged the men to make way. In any case, the brief blockade did little to disrupt traffic as motorists were diverted to an adjacent service lane.
At Singhu border, a few shops remained closed on Tuesday. Ram Niwas, a grocery shop owner, said nobody forced him to close. “We chose to remain closed to show support to farmers. Several of use are from farmer families and want the government to right the injustice done to the farming community,” he said.
There was also an increase in the number of protesters. Farmers said about 200 more trucks carrying farmers have reached the Singhu between Monday night and Tuesday to support the Bharat Bandh.
“We hadn’t anticipated any trouble and there hardly was any disruption,” said a senior police officer, who didn’t want to be identified.
At the Ghazipur-Ghaziabad (UP Gate) border, nearly 300 farmers blocked the Delhi-Meerut Expressway part and service lane of NH-24 but facilitated the movement of ambulances and other emergency vehicles. “Our protest is not aimed at creating problems for the public. It is primarily to wake up the government,” said Surjeet Singh, a farmer from Saharanpur.
The number of farmers protesting at Chilla border was much fewer that what it had been in the last one week. Dharmendra Singh, youth national secretary of BKU (Bhanu unit) said, “Our leaders had asked us to return to our respective cities and villages and participate in the Bharat Bandh at local levels. On Wednesday, we will return to Chilla border to continue our protest.”
At the Tikri Border, which has been witnessing protests since November 27, the situation remained as before. Nishan Singh, a farmer from Arnivala village in Fazilka district, said that all markets around the border were shut. “The border has been bandh since so many days. So, we didn’t need to do anything more than raise our voice against the farm bills,” he said.