Jalandhar, September 27
“Eh tan sirf trailer hai. Je saddiyan mangan nhi manniyan gayian tan aan wale dina ch hor vi vadda protest hoyega. (This is just a trailer of what lies ahead. If our demands are not fulfilled, there will be a bigger protest in the coming days),” said farmers addressing the gathering during Bharat bandh near PAP Chowk today.
The national and state highways at seven major locations were blocked in the district. Farmers blocked the national highway near Bath Castle, Lohian T-Point and Shahkot-Malasian, Adampur T-Point in Mallia village, Bhogpur, Nakodar-Jalandhar bypass, Pratappura-Lambra stretch on Nakodar road and Mehatpur toll plaza. The road from Haveli to Jalandhar Cantonment had also been closed.
Jalandhar-Ferozepur rail operation was completely cut off. Farmers closed Dakoha railway gate by putting up a tractor-trailer. They also sat on Cheheru railway track.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), district chief, Mandeep Singh Samra, said around six farmer outfits, including, BKU (Doaba), BKU (Rajewal), BKU (Ughrahan), Kisan Sangharsh Morcha and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, participated in the Bharat bandh.
The traffic police had to remain on their toes to divert commuters from highways and direct them to alternative routes. Traffic coming from Amritsar was diverted towards Hoshiarpur to join to NH-1, people coming from Ludhiana were diverted towards Cantt road to enter the city using Model Town road and people heading to Hoshiarpur were diverted via Chuggitti.
Only emergency services—ambulances, medical services and students—were allowed to cross barricades installed by farmers. The bandh initially had a mixed response in the district. To force the shutdown between 6 am-4 pm, farmers took out motorcycle and tractor rallies and forced banks, malls and shops to follow the bandh call.
Buses remain off road
The bandh gave a tough time to inter-state and inter-district commuters. Only a few private buses operating via alternate routes were plying as most buses remained off the roads and the bus stand wore a deserted look. The transporters suffered huge financial losses due to the bandh.
Bank forcibly shut
At around 12.30 pm, a group of farmers entered inside the Model Town branch of Punjab National Bank to force the bank officials to close the bank. After a minor argument with agitators, the officials preferred to adhere to the bandh guidelines. Similarly, a group of farmers also assembled outside the main branch of State Bank of India amid presence of heavy police force. Farmers squatted outside the bank to get it closed. Shutters of few malls and shopping stores were also pulled down by farmers. Amarjot Singh, a farmer said, “We carried a tractor march across the city to demand solidarity from locals.”
Over 2,000 cops on roads
To ensure safety of commuters and avert any untoward incident, around 2,000 cops from both the city and rural police remained present throughout the day on the roads and protest sites. The traffic police personnel also came on roads to channelise the peaceful movement of traffic. Normalcy returned after 4 pm and shopkeepers opened their shops.
Chakka jam in Kapurthala
Complete bandh and chakka jam was observed in the district as farmers’ organisations, fighting against the Centre agri laws had given a call for Bharat bandh today. The farmers had started pitching their tents on Kapurthala-Jalandhar highway from 6 am. Only ambulances and health services were exempted.
Farm leaders Harpreet Singh and Manpreet Singh said the United Kisan Morcha ensured peaceful bandh in Kapurthala city. At 9 am, farmers also held a protest outside Gurdwara Sahib Dhudianwal to get the agricultural laws repealed. After this, they staged a sit-in against the Central Government at DC Chowk in Kapurthala. Apart from this, farmers demonstrated at six places in the district. A protest march was also taken out in different markets of the city.
Praveen Kumar, General Manager, Pepsu, said buses did not ply today and the roadways incurred a loss of around Rs8 lakh. The bus service, however, resumed after 4 pm.
The Kapurthala SSP said 1,000 police personnel were deployed in the district in view of the security. PCR, traffic police, women police, in-charge of police stations were also posted at different intersections. Civil Hospital SMO Dr Sandeep Dhawan said hospital services remained functional as usual. Chemist shops also remained open.
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