Roads, rail tracks blocked as farmers observe 12-hour Bharat Bandh

The Samkyukta Kisan Morcha had given the call for bandh which is being observed from 6 am to 6 pm.

bharat bandh
Protesters block a rail track in Amritsar during 'Bharat Bandh' called by SMK | Photo: Twitter/ANI

Farmers protesting against three controversial farm laws of the Centre are observing a 12-hour [6 am-6 pm] Bharat bandh on Friday to mark four months of their agitation at Delhi’s three borders — Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri. They’ve gathered at several national highways, key roads and some rail tracks in Punjab and Haryana as part of their nationwide protest.

The Samkyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is at the forefront of the farmers’ agitation, had given the call for the Bharat Bandh which is being observed from 6 am to 6 pm.

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In Delhi, the police have closed both carriageways of National Highway-24 passing through Ghazipur border in view of the ‘Bharat Bandh’. In a tweet, the traffic police said that “traffic movement is closed on Ghazipur Border NH-24 (Both carriageways).”

One side of the carriageway was earlier opened on March 15 for traffic. However, the other side from Ghaziabad towards Delhi is closed due to the farmers’. The police said adequate security arrangements have been put in place. Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal had said there will be intense patrolling to maintain peace in the national capital.

“There will be adequate security arrangements in all police districts during the bandh. The patrolling staff will roam in their area throughout the day and their focus will be to maintain peace in busy marketplaces,” Biswal had said.

In Punjab and Haryana, the farmers have gathered at several highways and roads including in Bathinda, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Mohali, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Bhiwani districts. A group of farmers who were holding a protest in Zirakpur and Kharar towns in Punjab, both on the outskirts of Chandigarh, said they were allowing ambulances and other emergency vehicles to pass.

Related news | Modi shouldn’t force the farm laws through: Sukhbir Badal

Some of the protesters blocked the Ambala-Delhi highway near Ambala Cantt, police said. While another group squatted on a railway track near Shahpur village, around five kms from Ambala Cantt, due to which all the trains running between Delhi and Saharanpur were stranded, railway officials said.

The farmers also blocked the Ambala-Rajpura Highway on the Haryana-Punjab border near Shambhu barrier, and the Ambala-Hisar Highway near Ambala City. Blockades on various state highways were also reported in Naraingarh and Mullana in Haryana, police said.

The SKM, an umbrella body of protesting unions, has appealed to protesting farmers to be peaceful and not get involved in any illegitimate debate and conflict during the ‘bandh’. “All shops, malls, markets and institutions will remain closed under complete Bharat Bandh. All minor and big roads and trains will be blocked. All services will remain suspended except for ambulance and other essential services. The effect of Bharat Bandh will be observed inside Delhi as well,” the SKM had said in a statement.

Farmer leaders have said road and rail transport will be blocked and claimed that markets will also remain closed. They also claimed trade unions from organised and unorganised sectors, and transport and other associations too have extended support to the call for the Bharat Bandh. Meanwhile, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), apex religious body of the Sikhs, has also supported the nationwide protest.

Extending support to the Bharat Bandh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that India’s history shows that ‘satyagraha’ ends atrocities, injustice and arrogance. In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said India’s history shows that ‘satyagraha’ ends atrocities, injustice and arrogance. The movement should be in national interest and peaceful, Gandhi added.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee for minimum support price on their crops.

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