NEW DELHI—Life was disrupted in many parts of the country, particularly in Haryana and Punjab, owing to a good response to the ‘Bharat bandh’ call given by farm organisations in protest against three farm Bills.
However, there was no report of violence from any of the states.
However, the police arrested Tahir Hussain, president of Welfare Party of India, Karnataka unit, during protest against the farm bills.
Rail traffic in Punjab was badly affected as farmers, labourers and activists from political parties squatted on railway lines. Kisan organisations said that they will be squatting on railway lines for three days from today.
Reports of shutdown of shops and other establishments were received from Punjab’s Patiala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and other places.
The call for protest was given by 31 farm organisations in Punjab.
Several trains have been suspended since Thursday as farmers began a three-day ‘rail roko’ campaign against the Bills. The Ferozepur Railway division decided to suspend operation of special trains till September 26 in view of the safety of passengers, a rail official told IANS.
Protests are being held at 125 places in Punjab, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. All main highways were blocked by farmers.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has appealed to all political parties to rise above “petty considerations” and come on one platform to fight unitedly against the “treacherous” Bills that would destroy the state’s farmers.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union Government has stooped to a new low by bringing these Bills, and that too in a totally undemocratic and unparliamentary manner,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that his government, supported by the Congress state unit, will oppose the Legislations tooth and nail in the interest of not just the farmers and the state but the entire country.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the BJP-led NDA government, announced a statewide ‘chakka jam’ to mark their protest. SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal has asked the Punjab Chief Minister to immediately declare the entire state of Punjab a ‘principal market yard’ for agricultural produce so that the Center’s Bills on agricultural marketing do not apply in the state.
“This is the best, the quickest and the most effective way for Punjab to pre-empt the application of the Center’s latest anti-farmer Bills in the state because the Center’s Bills do not and will not apply to ‘principal market yards’ declared by any state government,” he said.
The SAD has been a longstanding ally of the ruling BJP. SAD’s Lok Sabha MP and Sukhbir Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the Union Cabinet on September 17, citing her party’s opposition to the three Bills.
In Haryana, activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union activists showed black flags to Agriculture Minister J.P. Dalal on Thursday in Mudlana village in Sonepat district.
Haryana farmers led by Bharitya Kisan Union blocked national highways from Hisar, Bhiwani, Jind and Rohtak connecting to Delhi. Farmers had jammed the highways by parking tractor trolleys and other vehicles. Trains going to Punjab via Jind were diverted through Rohtak-Bhiwani route due to the farmers’ protest.
In Bihar, former Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav led a farmers’ rally by driving a tractor. Workers of BJP and Jan Adhikar Party clashed with each other in Patna when JAP workers were passing in front of the BJP office. Videos on social media shows BJP workers attacking the JAP activists, alleging that JAP workers attacked the BJP office.
Protesting farmers also blocked several national highways, including the Delhi-Amritsar highway, Delhi-Meerut highway, Karnataka-Tamil Nadu highway. Huge traffic jams have also been reported from Ayodhya-Lucknow highway.
In Maharashtra, thousands of farmers took to the streets all over Maharashtra on Friday raising slogans, carrying banners and posters to protest against what they termed the three Bills as “the anti-farmers”. The agitation has been supported by the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, All India Kisan Sabha, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and other major farmers organisations in the state. The protests were organized Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik, Nandurbar, Jalna, Beed, Aurangabad, Nanded, Yavatmal and Buldhana etc.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Friday announced support to 62 crore farmers in the country. Addressing mediapersons, AICC communications department chief Randeep Singh Surjewala said that “stubborn and arrogant” government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not feeling the pains of the farmers and was bent on benefitting his corporate friends. He appealed the farmers to get united and launch a campaign against the three bills.
-With inputs from IANS
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav joined the protesters at Ratia in Haryana.