Hundreds of farmers on Monday blocked major highways, including National Highway 1 linking Delhi with parts of Haryana and Punjab, following a nationwide call by farmers' unions to demand scrapping of three Central farm laws.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the farmers' agitation, had earlier appealed to the people to join the bandh.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmers protesting against the central farm laws for the last 10 months are ready to agitate for 10 years, but will not allow the “black” legislation to be implemented.
The nation-wide 'Bharat Bandh' is set to start at 6 and end at 4 pm.
Farmers blocked highways and other roads at many places in Punjab, where the ruling Congress said it firmly stands by the farm unions' call for Bharat Bandh against the Centre's three agri laws.
In neighbouring Haryana too, there were reports of protesters blocking some highways, including in Sirsa, Fatehabad and Kurukshetra.
There were also reports of farmers squatting on rail tracks at a few places in the two states.
In Punjab, a complete shutdown was observed at several places, including Moga, where farmers blocked the Moga-Ferozepur and Moga-Ludhiana National Highways.
The Bathinda-Chandigarh National Highway too was blocked by farmers.
In Haryana, protesting farmers blocked the national highway in Charkhi Dadri while in Kurukshetra too, several roads were blocked.
Channi with Farmers
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi urged the Centre to repeal the three “anti-farmer laws”.
“#I Stand With Farmers & appeal the Union Govt. to repeal the three anti-farmer laws. Our farmers have been struggling for their rights since more than a year & it is high time that their voice is heard. I request the farmers to raise their voice in a peaceful manner (sic),” Channi tweeted.
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said the PPCC firmly stands by farmer unions’ for Bharat Bandh.
“Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee firmly stands by Farmer Unions demand for Bharat Bandh on 27 Sept 2021. In the war of right and wrong you can not afford to be neutral !! We urge every Congress worker to fight with all their might against the three Unconstitutional Black Laws !! (sic),” Sidhu tweeted.
Security Beefed Up
To maintain law and order in Haryana and Punjab in view of the protest by farmers, Delhi Police has beefed up security in border areas of the national capital in view of the Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions against the Centre's three farm aws on Monday.
The police diverted traffic at several places as the farmers blocked the highways of Punjab and Haryana.
However, there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the states. Emergency medical services were exempted from the blockade.
In view of the 'Bharat Bandh', Haryana Police has issued an advisory stating that people may face traffic blockages in the state.
Delhi Police also issued a traffic advisory. Patrolling has been intensified in the national capital, extra personnel have been deployed at the pickets especially across the border areas and every vehicle entering the national capital is being thoroughly checked.
Traffic movement has been closed from UP towards Ghazipur due to protest.— Delhi Traffic Police (@dtptraffic) September 27, 2021
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said, “In view of Bharat Bandh, adequate security arrangements have been made as a precautionary measure. Pickets at the border areas have been strengthened and all vital installations, including India Gate and Vijay Chowk have adequate deployment.”
No protester is being allowed to enter Delhi from the three protest sites at the city’s borders, the official said.
“The security is preventive and we are fully alert. There is no call for Bharat Bandh in Delhi, but we are watching the developments and adequate number of personnel are on ground,” another officer said.
Police personnel have been deployed on all roads leading to Delhi through villages near border areas while all vehicles are being checked at the pickets, they said.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said in a statement on Sunday, "Police have been instructed to take all the necessary precautionary measures to maintain peace and order in the wake of Bharat Bandh tomorrow.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been sitting at Delhi's borders for the past 10 months demanding that the farm laws, enacted in September last year, be scrapped.
Why farmers are protesting
“It has been 10 months of this agitation. The government must listen with open ears that even if we have to agitate for 10 years we are ready,” said Rakesh Tikait, while addressing a well-attended “Kissan Mahapanchayat” in Panipat.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader said that the Centre will have to repeal these laws.
Indicating that farmers were ready to intensify their stir if their demands are not met, Tikait asked farmers "to keep their tractors ready", saying "these may be required anytime (to move towards) in Delhi".
The mahapanchayat came a day ahead of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha's ''Bharat Bandh'' call for September 27 against the Centre's three contentious farm laws, marking completion of 10 months of the ongoing agitation.
Government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments will be closed across the country, the SKM said. However, the protestors have said that emergency services won't be affected. Rakesh TIkat insisted that Ambulances, certain food delivery services, etc. upon verification would be allowed to pass.
The SKM had also asked political parties to “stand with farmers in their quest to defend principles of democracy and federalism”.
"As this historic struggle completes 10 months, SKM has called Monday (September 27) to be observed as Bharat Bandh against the anti-farmer Modi government,” the SKM had said in a statement.
“The SKM appeals to every Indian to join this nationwide movement and make Bharat Bandh a resounding success. In particular, we appeal to all organisations of workers, traders, transporters, businessmen, students, youth and women and all social movements to extend solidarity with the farmers that day," it said.
The bandh will be held from 6 am to 4 pm during which all government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments, as well as public events and functions, will be closed throughout the country, it had said.
All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies will be exempted.
Farmers from different parts of the country, especially Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi borders since November last year, demanding the repeal of the three contentious farm laws that they fear would do away with the Minimum Support Price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.
(With PTI Inputs)