Shops and transportation are affected by the impact of Bharat Bandh in the states
A nationwide lockout strike called by 35 farmer groups against three controversial farm laws was largely peaceful on Tuesday, even as shops and businesses were closed and transportation was affected in parts of the country where protesters blocked roads and they occupied the train tracks.
The maximum impact of Bharat Bandh was felt in Punjab and Haryana, the epicenter of ongoing protests by farmers demanding the repeal of laws aimed at liberalizing agricultural trade. Western Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal also felt the impact of the attack observed between 11 a.m. M. And 3 p.m. M.
The impact was moderate in states such as Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, among others, and negligible in the northeastern states – except Assam – and Goa.
The Bharat Bandh succeeded and the central government now knows it has no way out, said a farmer leader, Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, on the Singhu border connecting Delhi and Haryana. It is one of the key entry points to the national capital and has been blocked since farmers arrived at the borders on November 27 to press their demands.
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The shutdown was seen at around 10,000 locations in 25 states, said Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav. “Fishermen, railroad workers, unions and artists are among the many organizations that have supported us,” he added.
Farm laws passed in September allow companies to freely trade agricultural products outside of the government-controlled so-called mandi system, allow private traders to store large quantities of commodities for future sales, and establish new rules for contract farming. Farmers fear that the reforms could pave the way for the government to stop buying basic products at minimum support prices (MSPs) set by the federal government and leave them at the mercy of private buyers.
Left-wing leaders said the Opposition had made a conscious decision to stay away from protest sites, despite the majority of them expressing support for the so-called bandh. Farmer leaders, who are in talks with the Center and say they are demanding nothing less than the repeal of the legislation, had called for an apolitical protest.
“It is a conscious decision on our part to stay away from places of protest. Farmer groups themselves also told us that they would want it this way. So, we don’t have party banners at the protest sites.
“However, our parliamentarians are there, as parliamentarians, to show solidarity. We do not want to politicize the issue. It is not just the left-wing parties, but the entire opposition has accepted this call that, except for the parliamentarians, no leader will unite with the farmers, ”said General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury.
However, workers from political rivals of the Center’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) joined the protests in several states. Police detained protesting leaders in several states, including the leader of the Gujarat Congress, Paresh Dhanani, and the chief of the Bhim army, Chandrashekhar Azad.
In Punjab and Haryana, farmers blocked national highways and other key highways in many places. Shops and commercial establishments remained closed in most places in Punjab and in several places in Haryana as merchants backed upset farmers.
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Public and private transportation services were closed in Punjab. In Haryana, interstate and intrastate bus services were disrupted.
More than 50,000 government employees took massive casual leave in support of farmers, said the president of the Punjab Civil Secretariat Staff Association Sukhchain Khaira.
The rioters blocked several key highways, including the Chandigarh-Delhi, Amritsar-Delhi, Hisar-Delhi and Bhiwani-Delhi national highways. Tractors, trucks and other vehicles were parked in the middle of the roadways.
In West Bengal, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has supported farmers, local train services were affected in North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts due to protests.
Congressional supporters and left-wing parties blocked the railroad tracks in various places and held demonstrations on the roads to enforce the closure. The bandh partially affected the state with private vehicles remaining off the roads, while fewer public transport vehicles, including buses and taxis, were in service.
Staff from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) chased away workers on the left at Howrah station when they blocked the entrance. Congressional workers in Kolkata and other districts forced stores and gas pumps to close in some areas.
In Jaipur, a confrontation broke out between members of the National Student Union of India (NSUI) and BJP Yuva Morcha workers in front of a BJP office. Farmers markets remained closed and public transport was off the roads in Rajasthan on Tuesday, as well as in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
In Uttar Pradesh, the bandh called by the farmers’ unions got a mixed response and shops and offices remained largely open, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) held protests in several districts and blocked a train in Allahabad.
SP leaders sat in a silent protest near the statue of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh at the Vidhan Bhavan in Lucknow. The SP members of the legislative council Rajpal Kashyap, Sunil Singh Sajan, Anand Bhadauria and Ashu Malik were part of it.
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However, life in the state capital was largely unaffected and District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash said attendance at the offices was absolutely normal.
In Bihar’s Jehanabad, the movement of the Patna-Palamu Express was obstructed for a few minutes until the police drove off bandh supporters, who were squatting on the tracks.
Train services were also affected in Odisha, as activists from farmers’ organizations, trade unions and political parties held sit-ins on the Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Balasore tracks.
In other parts of the state, ruled by Biju Janata Dal, normal life was affected with the closure of markets and offices and Congress and supporters of the left blocking main roads. The main cities of Chhattisgarh, ruled by Congress, were deserted, most of the commercial establishments were closed and public transport was kept away.
In Maharashtra, where the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress combination extended its support, wholesale markets in major cities such as Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad were closed. Retail stores also lowered the blinds in many cities. Agricultural Products Market Committees (APMC) have been closed in many parts of the state.
In Assam, shops lowered the blinds, protesters blocked traffic and rallies were held, but most offices were operational. Dozens of protesters were detained, authorities said.
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi and opposition parties, including Congress and various unions, held protests in Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies, including Congress, held protests across the state, but life was largely unaffected. In the territory of the Puducherry union, ruled by Congress, however, the bandh call elicited a good response.
The bandh provoked a mixed response in Madhya Pradesh, ruled by the BJP. In Gwalior district, police used water cannons to disperse rioters who were led by a congressional leader. Stores remained open in several cities even as Congressional workers rallied asking merchants to lower the shutters.
Normal life was disrupted in parts of Karnataka as farmers and workers took to the roads. Many organizations in the state demonstrated in support of the bandh. In some states, including Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, life continued unhindered.