New Delhi: The 10-hour countrywide call for Bharat Bandh, marking 10 months of the farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws among other things, took on Monday with reports of protests, demonstrations, highway and rail blockades by farmers, backed by other sections of society pouring in from several states. Emergency services, such as ambulances, were not being stopped, said farmer unions.
The Bharat Bandh call, given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, is being backed by a majority of non- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties, trade unions, employee federations, student, youth and women organisations.
On Sunday, the SKM appealed for complete peace during the Bandh and urged all Indians to join the strike.
“It was on September 27, 2020 that President Shri Ram Nath Kovind assented to and brought into force the three anti-farmer black laws last year, "SKM said in a statement.
In Punjab and Haryana, national highways, state highways, link road and railway tracks were blocked sine morning
According to reports, 14trains were cancelled in Punjab as protests began in over 350 places. In Haryana, highways were blocked 25 places alone in the Jind district.
Farmers have been opposing the laws as they feel that the so-called reforms would decisively hand over agricultural production and trade to big food companies and traders, posing an imminent danger their livelihoods as well as to food security in a country that has about 200 million hungry people.
Police Barriers to Stop Protesters
Since Monday morning, crowds started swelling on Delhi’s borders – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur – where farmers have been on a sit-in protest since 10 months after the Narendra Modi government refused to relent on their demand for repeal of the three farm laws, legal guarantee of minimum support price for all crops among others.
Enhancing ‘security measures’ that would eventually tantamount to preventing people from reaching the protest cites, a Delhi Metro station near Tikri Border, closed.
The station in Haryana -- Pandit Shree Ram Sharma -- falls on the Green Line of the network.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police also beefed up security in border areas of the national capital.
In the capital, both carriageways across the iconic Red fort were closed.
"Chattarel and Subhash Marg have been closed from both sides," a Delhi Traffic Police official told PTI.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Ghaziabad Police closed a national highway that connects Ghaziabad and Nizamuddin in Delhi.
At the UP Gate, which is also the protest site of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) since November last, police put up barricades on the highway.
SKM’s countrywide strike call is being backed by several Opposition parties, such as Congress, Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal, DMK, among others. Some Opposition-led government, too, are supporting the cause of farmers, such as the Left-run Kerala government. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has also extended support to the band. The Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments, too, have declared complete support to the Bandh. , Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav has also announced participation in the nationwide strike.
Telangana: Cong, Left, TDP Join Protests
Hyderabad: Activists of the Congress, Left parties, Telugu Desam Party and others held protests at various places in Telangana in support of the Bharat Bandh called by farmers unions to protest against the Centre's three agri laws.
Raising slogans against the NDA government at the Centre and TRS government in Telangana, the opposition activists organised protests outside bus stations at different places in the state to prevent the buses from plying.
Protests were held in the districts of Vanaparthi, Nalgonda, Nagarkurnool, Adilabad, Rajanna-Sircilla, Vikarabad and others.
The Opposition activists slammed the NDA government over the three agri laws, attempts to "sell off" PSUs and rising fuel prices.
Odisha: Markets shut, Public Transport Off Roads
Bhubaneswar: Markets were shut and public transport stayed off the roads as the Bharat Bandh hit normal life in Odisha on Monday.
Supporters of the shutdown, including members of Congress and the Left parties, picketed at important junctions across the state amid rains, demanding repeal of the three farm laws.
Roads were blocked at different places in Bhubaneswar, Balasore, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Bolangir, Rayagada and Subarnapur, among others.
The protesters also blocked the railway lines at Bhubaneswar station, affecting train services in the state capital.
Government offices across the state witnessed thin attendance.
The Odisha State Road Transport Corporation suspended bus service from 6 am to 3 pm in the wake of the bandh. Private buses also remained off the roads.
Educational institutions, which reopened following the lockdown, remained shut due to the bandh.
Though markets were closed, shops selling essentials, including pharmacies and milk outlets, remained unaffected.
Several trade unions and bank employees' unions were also backing the 12-hour bandh.
Navaniman Krushak Sangathan state convenor Akshya Kumar said farmers across the country are angry as Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not pay any heed to their issues.
"Today's bandh is symbolic. It will be further intensified till PM Modi withdraws the three farm laws," said Sesadev Nanda, another leader of the outfit.
TN: Farmer bodies stage protests
Chennai: Farmer bodies and Left parties on Monday staged protests in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
In a protest held here, State Secretaries of the CPI and CPI(M), R Mutharasan and K Balakrishnan respectively, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol Thirumavalavan and functionaries of the ruling DMK affiliated Labour Progressive Federation participated.
Similar protests were held in other parts of the state including Kanyakumari in which office-bearers of ruling DMK and Congress party participated. Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was among the trade unions that actively took part in the protests.
The DMK's agricultural wing had days ago appealed to people, farmers and other sections of society to throw their weight behind the Bharath Bandh.
Shops and establishments were shut in several regions of Tamil Nadu's Cauvery delta zone, like Tiruvarur and Tiruthuraipoondi.
Kerala: LDF-UDF Back Farmers’ Strike
Thiruvananthapuram: The hartal in Kerala supported by the ruling LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF to express solidarity with the protesting farmers who have called a nationwide 'Bharat Bandh', started early Monday morning.
Public transport, especially KSRTC bus services, was hit as almost all trade unions in the state are participating in the hartal, and people who had to travel opted for private modes of transport while others stayed home.
While BJP had termed the hartal as "anti-people", the party's state General Secretary George Kurian had said that while the trade unions affiliated to it are not supporting the strike, they would not be openly opposing it.
Inputs from PTI