Lucknow: Cutting across party lines and trade unions, the 10-hour Bharat Bandh, against the three farm laws, evoked a good response across Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Monday with the disruption of road and rail traffic. With the exemption of emergency medical services, no untoward incident was reported though several farmer leaders were detained or put under house arrest after they came out on the roads.
National and state highways in several districts, including Meerut, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Agra, Saharanpur and Hapur were blocked by the protesters. Farmers in a large number gathered on NH-58 in Meerut, Sakauti, Sivaya toll plaza, Partapur and Jangethi on Karnal Road.
Rail traffic across western Uttar Pradesh was badly hit as farmers, farm labourers, commission agents, trade unions and activists of political parties squatted on railway lines. The Lucknow-Chandigarh Express was halted at the Saharanpur railway station while UP-bound trains from Punjab were cancelled.
Activists of several farmer associations were seen asking traders at several places in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Uttar Pradesh to keep their shops and business establishments closed to support the protest.
Women’s organisations, including the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), protested the farm laws and raised slogans against the government at Lucknow’s Begum Hazrat Mahal Park. “Both Modi and Yogi are pro-corporate, communal and fascistic forces who must be defeated to save our Constitution and secular and democratic nation. They should be stopped from selling our national assets,” and AIDWA leader.
More than a dozen farmers in Mau, Faizabad, Sitapur, Varanasi and Barabanki were detained and sent to the respective Police Lines.
“The Modi government is promoting ‘company raj’ by betraying the country. In Uttar Pradesh, an atmosphere of fear and communalism is being created by the Yogi government,” Mukut Singh, state secretary, All India Kisan Union, who led march in Etawah, told Newsclick.
“During the pandemic, the Modi-Yogi governments miserably failed and could not save lives and livelihood. Farmers are fighting not for themselves but to save the country from hunger, black market, and inflation. It is the ultimate duty of every patriotic citizen to stand with the farmer movement,” Singh added.
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union, told Newsclick, “The farmers are on the streets for the last 10 months, but the blind and deaf government neither sees nor hears their plight. There is no other option in democracy but to protest. The government should not have the illusion that the farmers will return home empty-handed. Even today, the farmer is adamant on the demand for withdrawal of the farm laws.”
Meanwhile, leaders of various opposition parties, including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party extended their support to the Bharat Bandh. SP president and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said that the ruling BJP, which does not respect farmers, has lost the moral right to remain in power.