As Bharat Bandh begins, Rakesh Tikait says haven’t sealed anything
As a 10-hour Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) against the three central farm laws began on Monday, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said they have not sealed anything and emergency vehicles are being allowed to ply on the roads. “Ambulances, doctors or those going for an emergency can pass through. We've not sealed down anything, we just want to send a message,” Rakesh Tikait, the spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. “We appeal to the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed for now and open only after 4pm. No farmer is coming here from outside,” Tikait added.
However, traffic between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh was hit and farmers blocked several borders. Police in Haryana and Delhi have issued travel and traffic advisories about the Bharat Bandh and said national and state highways in the states may see some traffic disruptions for several hours. They have advised people to plan and modify their journey accordingly to avoid any inconvenience. Elaborate arrangements have been put in place by the civil and police administration.
The Bharat Bandh called by the SKM, an umbrella body of more than 40 farmer unions, to mark the first anniversary of the enactment of the three farm laws started at 6am on Monday. According to the SKM’s Bharat Bandh guidelines all government and private offices, schools, colleges and other educational institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments will be closed throughout the country. All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal and medical emergencies, will be allowed to work. Public and private transport will not be allowed to ply on roads but emergency services, including ambulances and fire services, can function, it has said.
On Sunday, Tikait said farmers will continue their fight against the three central farm laws for 10 years until the government accepted their demands. “I want to make it clear that the government will have to repeal these laws as we will not allow their implementation at any cost. Had the government read farmers’ history, it would not have brought these laws. We are sons of the soil and can force the government’s face into it to compel it to meet our demands,” he said while addressing a “Kisan Mahapanchayat” on the completion of 10 months of the farmers’ agitation in the country.
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Tikait, a farmer leader from Uttar Pradesh, also warned the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) will go to all poll-bound states and launch a campaign against the party if the laws were not repealed. “We again request them to repeal these laws at the earliest, otherwise the SKM leaders will visit every poll-bound state, including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, to oppose your candidates in the coming elections,” he said.
Tikait also urged farmers to keep their tractors ready as they may get a call for another tractor march from the SKM.