Bharat Bandh: Farmers block highways, rail tracks

Farmers in Maharashtra observe Bharat Bandh

Farmer organisations have called a “Bharat Bandh” today as part of their long protest seeking withdrawal of Nareandra Modi government’s three farm laws that they allege will give power to private firms to take over the agriculture sector.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, is leading the 6 am-4 pm protest today.

Government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments will be closed across the country, the protesters said.

The SKM has said they will not allow movement on some sections of national highways.

Subsequently Delhi-Meerut Expressway was blocked near the Ghazipur protest site, affecting the traffic coming from Uttar Pradesh.

The closure of a key border stretch connecting Delhi with Uttar Pradesh due to Bharat Bandh led to increased traffic flow on other roads connecting the two states on Monday morning.

Huge traffic jams were seen at Delhi’s borders with Gurgaon and Noida as vehicles entering the national capital were checked by Delhi Police and paramilitary jawans.

The Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana was blocked too.

Almost all Opposition parties in the country including Congress, BSP, SP and left parties have asked all their workers, state unit chiefs and heads of frontal organisations to take part in the Bharat Bandh.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmers are ready to protest for 10 years, but will not allow the draconian legislations to be implemented.

In Punjab, one of the hotspots of agitation, farmers have started protesting at over 350 places.

In Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said he party will support a peaceful “Bharat Bandh”. “The farmers of the country do not endorse the three farm laws brought in a hurry by the centre, and are sad about it. They have been protesting for the past 10 months in the country and aggressively, especially around Delhi,” Mayawati said.

The southern states Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments, too, have declared complete support to the Bandh.