Trains halted, shops closed: How Bharat Bandh called by farmers is panning out
Nearly five hours into the 12-hour nationwide blockade, called by farmers protesting against agricultural legislation enacted by the government, scores of farmers and activists have blocked major highways, rail routes and ensured the closure of markets across several regions. Friday’s Bharat Bandh, from 6am to 6pm, marks the completion of four months of the farmer’s agitation.
The farmers have been camping at various borders of Delhi since November 26 last year demanding a complete rollback of the new farm laws.
Farmer union leader Rakesh Tikait, who was in Haryana's Yamunanagar last night on Thursday has asserted that the nationwide shutdown will be a success and will have the support of many. "We are demanding that the three laws should be taken back for the last four months and the government has to accept the demands," he said.
While the blockade has been called across states, its impact was majorly seen in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana and Delhi. The farmers have gathered at several highways and roads in the two states including in Bathinda, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Mohali, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Bhiwani districts.
Some of the protesters also blocked the Ambala-Delhi highway near Ambala Cantt, police said. According to officials, heavy security has been deployed in the two states.
The shutdown was also observed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh where members of Left parties held demonstrations at Maddilapalem junction against the Centre’s agriculture laws and privatisation of Vizag steel plant, news agency ANI said, adding that a rally will be organised at National Highway-16, which is connected between Kolkata to Chennai, later in the day.
The Samkyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has appealed to protesters to be peaceful and not get involved in any kind of illegitimate debate and conflict during the 'bandh'. "All shops, malls, markets and institutions will remain closed under complete Bharat Bandh. All minor and big roads and trains will be blocked. All services will remain suspended except for ambulance and other essential services. The effect of Bharat Bandh will be observed inside Delhi as well," the umbrella body of protesting unions said in a statement, according to PTI. In a video message, SKM leader Darshan Pal said that supplies of vegetables and milk will also stopped by the protesting farmers.
The farmers and the central leadership have so far held 11 rounds of meetings that have failed to end the impasse over the legislation cleared during the monsoon session of Parliament last year.