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Nationwide shutdown call on Day 305 of farm stir

Traffic comes to a standstill across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi as major highways were blocked by protesting farmers.

IANS | New Delhi |

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM)-called Bharat Bandh on Monday marked the first anniversary of the three contentious farm laws passed a year back and saw traffic come to a standstill across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi as major highways were blocked by protesting farmers.

Heavy police presence at various places in Haryana and Punjab was seen to maintain law and order in view of the shutdown-call by farmers, who parked their tractors on highways and major link roads in both the states and squatted on the road.

The Delhi-Amritsar national highway remained blocked at Shahabad in Kurukshetra, Haryana while traffic movement from Uttar Pradesh towards Ghazipur was closed. Down south, the ruling Left and opposition Congress gave full support to the shutdown and the state saw a near-total lockdown.

Like every time, this time too, the SKM has said that the bandh will be peaceful and has urged all to support the shutdown. On behalf of 40 farmers’ organizations led by the SKM, Bharat Bandh will be observed from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, according to the farmers, all the necessary services will be fully operational during this time.

“On September 27 last year, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his nod to the three anti-farmer black laws,” SKM said in a statement.

Several political parties have given their support to the striking farmers. The CPI (M), CPI, Forward Bloc, Samajwadi Party, CPI (Liberation), CPI (M) New Democracy, SUCI (C), MCPI (U), Congress, AAP, TDP, Janata Dal-Secular, BSP, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, YSRCP, JMM, RJD, and the Swaraj India Party.

According to the SKM, Bharat Bandh includes trade unions, employees and student unions, women’s organizations, and unions of transporters.

Security has been beefed up at Delhi’s borders where the farmers have been protesting for over 10 months. A large number of Delhi Police personnel were seen at various places in the national capital since morning. Police in a dozen states have also been placed on alert.

In Ghaziabad, the police have ordered to divert routes on several main roads and intersections, including the peripheral, Hapur Chungi, UP Gate, and Ghazipur Border.

People traveling across the Delhi borders may face inconvenience. Apart from this, the working in schools, colleges, universities, and other educational institutions and services of some banks might get affected.

Farmers have already made it clear that no government or non-government public programs will be allowed during the shutdown period.

According to SKM’s statement, the Bharat Bandh will be completely peaceful. Central and state government offices, markets, shops, factories, schools, colleges, and other educational institutions will not be allowed to operate during the Bharat Bandh. Public and private transport will also not be allowed, said the SKM.

However, emergency services like ambulances, fire services, drug stores, and medical-related services, including hospitals will be allowed to operate.

At the same time, students going for exams or interviews will not be stopped. Emergency services attached to the Covid-19 pandemic will also not be disrupted, the SKM has said.

It has been over 10 months of farmers’ protest on the borders of Delhi. Farmer representatives have had 11 rounds of unsuccessful talks with the government, that faced roadblocks following the January 26 violent incident at the Red Fort.