Bharat bandh: Mixed response in most of Uttarakhand; maximum impact in US Nagar, Pithoragarh
The Bharat bandh, called by the farmers over the recently passed three agricultural laws, witnessed an overall mixed response in the state barring US Nagar and Pithoragarh districts of Kumaon region which were most affected with majority of the markets closed in support of the bandh.
The districts of Dehradun, Haridwar and Nainital saw a mixed response to the bandh with about only half the shops closed in support of the bandh call.
US Nagar district, which saw the maximum impact of the bandh, witnessed all major markets closed in support of the farmers. The local trader unions decided to support the farmers by closing their shops on the day.
Observing the bandh, Congress workers gathered near Ambedkar chowk in Rudrapur led by the former minister in Congress government TR Behar and raised anti-Centre slogans.
Terming the agricultural laws as “black laws” he said, “Modi government has sold agriculture to the corporate sector and has nothing to do with the farmers’ welfare. Congress would raise its voice to save farmers of the country.”
During the bandh, some groups of farmers tried to block the highways in Jaspur and Kashipur areas of the district but were soon removed from there.
Another district of Kumaon region, Pithoragarh, also witnessed almost complete closure of the markets in support of the farmers.
In Dehradun, major markets like Paltan Bazar and Arhat Bazar were mostly open but with less number of customers than usual. City’s biggest mandi of fruits and vegetables was also open with people buying groceries without any hassle caused by the bandh.
Amid the bandh, the district police had also made adequate security measures to ensure a peaceful bandh without any untoward incident which could disturb the law and order situation.
Deputy inspector general, Dehradun, Arun Mohan Joshi had divided the whole city into nine zones and 21 sectors with significant deployment of police force at major places of the city.
Earlier on Monday evening before the bandh, he had also warned of strict action against anyone found forcefully implementing the bandh.
During the day, Congress members led by state Congress president Pritam Singh held a protest and tried to block the road near busy Gandhi Park square. However, they were soon detained by police from the spot and taken to Police Lines from where they were released after some time.
The Haridwar district also witnessed a mixed response to the bandh in its urban areas but a significant impact was seen in its agriculture dominated rural belts.
The farmer unions, including Bharatiya Kissan Union - both Tikait-Ambawat factions and Uttarakhand Kissan Morcha - staged protests and tried to block the Roorkee-Delhi highway. The police, however, prevented them from doing so to ensure smooth flow of traffic of the main highway.
Congress members staged protest marches in Haridwar city, Jwalapur, Roorkee, Laksar, Bhagwanpur and Manglaur areas against the newly enacted three agricultural laws.
Former Congress legislator, Ambrish Kumar, while addressing the farmers at Jwalapur area of Haridwar, said that the “newly enacted farm laws will not only harm the agricultural sector but also adversely impact the poor and the lower-middle-class section.”
“Modi government is trying to hand over the agriculture to corporates and in the coming time, public sector undertakings and every major sector will be corporate-managed. Anti-poor, anti-labour and anti-farmers policies are the hallmark of the BJP-led NDA government,” said Kumar.
In Haldwani city of Nainital district, a group of farmers gathered at Tikonia square where they tried to block the national highway. The police deployed there tried to stop them, however, no incident of violence was reported.
Supporting the bandh, leader of opposition, Indira Hridayesh, held a protest in Haldwani where she attacked the BJP government of acting against the farmer’s rights and said, “If farmers are demanding to guarantee MSP for crops then what is wrong in it? Congress fully stands in support of the farmers.”
Considering the Bharat bandh, the state police had deployed a significant force to prevent any untoward incident.
Inspector general, AP Anshuman, also the chief spokesperson for police headquarters, said the bandh was a “peaceful one” barring some incidents of road blockage.
“The bandh saw a mixed response in the state with no incidents of violence. There were some road blockades in US Nagar which were soon opened. There were also some arrests by the police, including one of the Congress members in Dehradun who were trying to block the road, but were soon released after a brief detention,” said Anshuman