Bharat Bandh on Monday, road and rail traffic disruptions likely
The 16-hour Bharat Bandh call given by farmers on Monday is likely to have a major impact on road and rail traffic in the states ruled by the opposition parties as these parties and their frontal organisations have decided to support the bandh given by Sankyut Kisan Morcha, an organization of over 30 farmer bodies protesting the enactment of three farm laws.
In the states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), elaborate security arrangements have been made to prevent the farmer bodies and opposition political parties from disrupting normal life. Additional security forces have been deployed in all districts in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Bihar to prevent any law and order issues.
The Bandh will be in force from 6 am to 4 pm on Monday. “More than 605 farmers have been martyred, including two deaths related to police brutalities. The Modi government is behaving in an extremely undemocratic and inhuman way against farmers, and BJP will certainly bear the consequences of this,” the SKM said in a statement on Sunday.
On Sunday, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal asked all its state party chiefs to join Bharat Bandh. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati extended her party’s support. In Kerala, the Left parties have called for a complete shutdown along with Congress. In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee supported the bandh and has asked police to ensure that there is no untoward incident.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK and the Congress would hold protests at district headquarters against the Centre refusing to withdraw the three farm laws notified a year ago. In several states, various labour, lawyer and traders bodies have extended support to the call.
However, the biggest impact of the bandh is expected in Haryana, Punjab, parts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh, which had been an epicentre of the 10-month long farmer protest. Farmer bodies in Meerut said that committees have been formed to block traffic at every state and national highway in Uttar Pradesh. Bharatiya Kisan Union’s media in charge Dharmendra Malik said the national highways would be blocked at 14 places in Bijnor, 8 places in Meerut, three places in Ghaziabad, 10 places in Muzaffarnagar and also other districts across the state.
“We are committed to ensuring that no law and order problem takes place in the state during the Bandh. All arrangements have been done and different police units have been put on alert in advance,” UP police Additional Director General, Law and Order Prashant Kumar said. The bandh is not likely to have much impact on the rest of Uttar Pradesh.
In Punjab and Haryana, the farmer bodies have announced that they would block all national and state highways and will not allow trains to run. In the two states, all political parties, except BJP, have supported the bandh call and have asked workers to ensure bandh is successful. In Haryana, major protests are planned at the Delhi-Ambala rail line and national highway in Ambala, apart from ones at all district headquarters.
In Rajasthan, spokesperson, Sanyukt Kissan Morcha, Sanjay Madhav said all the market associations, traders and others are appealed to keep the markets shut. “Besides farmers and traders organisations, the Left and the Congress are supporting the bandh,” he said, adding that the protest will continue till the demands are met, even after the Bandh.
In Bihar, the police have instructed all SPs in districts to take prompt action against protestors disrupting road and rail traffic or putting up road blockades causing inconvenience to commuters. Additional director general of Police (headquarter), JS Gangawar, said lawbreakers would be dealt with firmly. “All SPs have been directed to take action against protestors and ensure that law and order is maintained,” he said.
All political parties in West Bengal, except BJP, supported the bandh call.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday denounced the call for Bharat Bandh by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha against the Centre’s three contentious farm laws on September 27, saying disrupting economic activities post Covid-19 was not in the interest of the nation.
People have just now started performing various tasks after suffering for one-and-half years due to the pandemic, he said. “They have started their business activities. It is our duty to make sure that people should not face hardship,” Bommai told reporters.
“Our government does not support bandhs but the TMC fully supports the issue. The Centre must withdraw the three draconian farm laws immediately,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is contesting the September 30 assembly bypoll at Bhawanipore in Kolkata. The Tripura government imposed Section 144 in East and West Agartala areas from September 21 till November 4 to prevent any procession or meeting during the period even though Sanyukt Kisan Morcha has given a call to disrupt traffic.
In Odisha, Congress and the Left union have given a rail roko call across the state. Special secretary home Santosh Bala has asked all employees working in Lok Seva Bhawan, Kharavela Bhawan, Rajiv Bhawan and in the Heads of Department Building of Bhubaneswar to reach Office latest by 9.30 am as gates would close by 10.15 am.
The bandh is not expected to have an impact in Goa, Gujarat, most parts of Maharashtra, Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.