Bharat Bandh: Farmers block rail, road traffic in North India, Delhi chokes

The ruling Congress in Punjab stands by the farm unions call for Bharat Bandh against the Centres three farm laws.

Farmers and their supporters blocking rail movement at Bahadurgarh railway station in Haryana on September 27, 2021 | Photo - Twitter/@NavdeepDalal

Farmers and their supporters blocked highways and railway tracks at several places in the country on Monday (September 27, 2021) as part of the Bharat Bandh protests called by the farmers’ unions against the Centre’s farm laws.

Security was beefed up in Delhi and along its borders at Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida, leading to slow movement of traffic. Though much of the country was unaffected, commuters in north India felt the pinch, with trains being cancelled or delayed, and massive traffic snarls that prevented cross border movement.

The bandh, called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farm unions, marks one year one year since President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the three controversial laws and is in effect from 6 am to 4 pm on Monday.

Several political parties across the country, including Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, DMK, YSR Congress, Left parties and Swaraj India, have stood by the Bandh.

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Public transport was hit in Kerala where the strike is supported by the ruling LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF. Protests were also seen in West Bengal where the Left Front backed the call for a shutdown. Farmer bodies and Left parties staged protests in several parts of Tamil Nadu.

Farmers took out rallies in several districts of Rajasthan, including Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Bikaner, Sikar and Nagaur, where the major mandis and markets remained closed. Vehicular movement was disrupted in several parts of Jharkhand while shops were shut in state capital Ranchi. Similar scenes were visible in parts of Odisha too

Highways, roads and railway tracks in Bihar, especially in Patna, Bhojpur, Lakhisarai, Jahanabad, East Champaran, Begusarai, Madhepura and Nalanda districts, were blocked as RJD and Congress workers lent support to the protest call.

Punjab, Haryana worst affected

Normal life was hit the most in Punjab and Haryana as farmers and their supporters blocked highways and roads, and squatted on railway tracks.

A complete shutdown was observed in Punjab, with transport services suspended during the bandh period, while shops and other commercial establishments remained shut at most places.

National and state highways in several districts, including Amritsar, Rupnagar, Jalandhar, Pathankot, Sangrur, Mohali, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bathinda, were blocked by the protesters.

In neighbouring Haryana, the protesters blocked highways in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Hisar, Charkhi Dadri, Karnal, Kaithal, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Panchkula districts.

Ferozepur’s Divisional Railway Manager Seema Sharma told PTI that some passenger trains have been cancelled while some other services have been rescheduled.

Farmers squatted on railway tracks at many places in the two states, including at Shahbad near Kurukshetra, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh, Charkhi Dadri, Jind, Amritsar, Patiala, Barnala and Lalru near Derabassi.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi urged the Centre to repeal the three “anti-farmer” laws. “#I Stand With Farmers & appeal the Union Govt. to repeal the three anti-farmer laws. Our farmers have been struggling for their rights since more than a year & it is high time that their voice is heard. I request the farmers to raise their voice in a peaceful manner,” he said in a tweet.

Punjab Congress Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said that the state Congress firmly stands by farmer unions’ demand for Bharat Bandh and tweeted, “In the war of right and wrong, you cannot afford to be neutral!! We urge every Congress worker to fight with all their might against the three Unconstitutional Black Laws!!”

 

In Haryana, the protesters blocked the national highway in Charkhi Dadri and several roads in Kurukshetra. According to a police official, the civil administration and the police have made arrangements according to the direction of the state government.

Traffic movement in Ghaziabad and Noida hit

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 year, police have put up barricades on the highway to check vehicles. Nobody is allowed to travel from this route between Delhi and Ghaziabad due to the Bharat Bandh call,” Superintendent of Police, Gyanendra Singh told PTI. He added that three other borders between Delhi and Ghaziabad — Ananad Vihar, Dilshad Garden-Apsara Cinema, and Tulsi Niketan — are open.

Routes between Noida and Delhi via Chilla and DND flyway are open. But there was increased traffic on these routes during office hours. “The traffic movement had slowed down a bit because of the pressure,” a traffic police official told PTI.

According to officials, expressways including Yamuna Expressway, leading from Greater Noida into interior districts of Uttar Pradesh like Mathura, Agra, Aligarh, Lucknow, among others were open without any hindrance in the morning.

 

The traffic police said in a tweet, “The Ghazipur border is closed for traffic from both sides due to farmers protests. Commuters wishing to commute to and fro between UP and Delhi may use the DND flyway, Vikas Marg, Signature bridge, and Wazirabad road. Traffic on NH 24 and 9 is being diverted towards Maharajpur, Apsara and Bhopura borders.”

Farmers have been protesting from different parts of the country since November 2020, demanding the repeal of three farm laws. However, the government has been projecting that the three laws are major agricultural reforms.

What are the farm laws

The three laws — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — were passed by Parliament in September last year.

Farmer groups have alleged that these laws will end the mandi and the MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates. The government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced and asserted that these steps will help increase farmer income.

(With inputs from agencies)

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