Farmers intensify stir, block Delhi-Amritsar, Ayodhya-Lucknow routes

Three-day rail blockade hits train traffic at several places in Punjab, Haryana 

Farmers, under the aegis of Bharatiya Kisan Union and Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI), block the Amritsar-Delhi National Highway near Phillaur in Jalandhar, in protest against the farm bills. Photo: ANI/Twitter

Protesting farmers have blocked the Delhi-Amritsar highway, and huge traffic jams have also been reported from Ayodhya-Lucknow highway. Many farmers’ organizations, including from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have called a national shutdown on Friday in protest against the contentious farm bills passed by Parliament earlier this week.

With the ruling Congress and opposition AAP as well as NDA ally SAD supporting the farmers’ agenda, Punjab and Haryana are likely to see a total shutdown.

Farmers in Punjab started a three-day rail blockade against the bills, squatting on tracks at many places on Thursday. The farmer outfits have also decided to call an indefinite rail blockade from October 1.

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Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the state government was fully with the farmers in their fight against the bills and no FIRs would be registered for violation of Section 144, which bars assembly of more than four people.

In Punjab, farmer unions began a three-day ‘rail roko’ at six different locations in the state with 1,000 to 1,500 farmers sitting on the tracks at each protest site on Thursday. The Railways partially cancelled 20 trains and short-terminated five trains till September 26 as protesters blocked rail tracks at various places, including Amritsar, Ferozepur, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa and Nabha.

Farmer groups in Haryana have urged residents to observe a bandh from 10am to 4pm on Friday. However, the National Highways have been exempted from the bandh call.

On Thursday, the Congress kicked off its nationwide campaign against the “anti-farmer” farm Bills, saying millions of party workers stand in solidarity with the farmers’ cause and will participate in their sit-ins.

Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Sujewala said that while farmers and farm labourers fill the stomachs of countrymen with their hard labour, the Modi government is attacking them and their fields.

The Chandigarh Police are on high alert amid reports that agitating farmers are likely to try to enter Chandigarh. Police presence has been increased at all border posts. The SHOs and SDPOs of the divisions, especially of areas sharing boundaries with Punjab and Haryana, were instructed to stay alert, to prevent any untoward incident. Instructions were issued for not allowing the entry of any tractor-trolley laden with farmers in Chandigarh.

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Supporting the bandh call against three farm Bills,. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Gurnam Singh Chaduni urged arhtiyas (commission agents at mandis) and traders to close their shops on Friday (September 25). “There is a good response to our agitation in Haryana… There should be a complete shutdown on Friday. There should be no vehicles on roads during the bandh call,” said Chaduni.

He gave a call to farmers to sit on roads except the National Highways during bandh period but asked them to restrain from violence.