Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 27
The 10-hour nationwide shutdown on Monday on the call by farmers’ unions to demand the scrapping of three central farm laws got an enormous response in Punjab and Haryana where tens of thousands of farmers blocked major highways, including National Highway 1 linking Delhi.
Shops and other commercial establishments were closed in most towns as traders extended their support to the agitating farmers. They opened their establishments only after the shutdown was over.
However, there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the states. Emergency medical services were exempted from the blockade.
But traffic across Punjab and Haryana was hit badly for several hours as farmers, farm labourers, commission agents, trade and employee unions and activists of political parties squatted on national highways from 6 am to 4 pm
The protesting farmers parked their tractors on highways and major link roads in both Punjab and Haryana and squatted on the road.
Even an Indian Army convoy was halted for half an hour in Jalandhar town with farmers allowing it to move ahead after checking documents.
Heavy police presence was seen at various places in Haryana and Punjab to maintain law and order.
The police diverted traffic at several places as the farmers blocked the highways.
Hundreds of people had a harrowing time as buses, taxis and trains did not ply due to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM)-called Bharat Bandh.
Commuters were left stranded at railway stations and bus stands in various towns and cities as public transport did not ply. People were forced to trudge with heavy luggage and office-goers too were hit hard.
State roadways, private buses and taxis were off the roads, causing misery to thousands of passengers.
Buses remained parked at bus stands or bus depots, and passengers were left stranded.
Auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws made a quick buck from people wanting to reach their destination on time.
Most of the roads across the two states, including in joint capital Chandigarh, wore a near-deserted look.
While most of the private schools were shut, the attendance at government offices was negligible.
“We have decided not to attend office owing to the closure of all major road links that started early in the morning,” said Nisha Singh, a government employee, who daily commutes from her hometown Kharar to Chandigarh.
The worst affected places were Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur and Moga.
In neighbouring Haryana, there were reports of protesters blocking highways in Ambala, Karnal, Panipat, Sirsa, Fatehabad and Kurukshetra districts.
Phagwara Station Superintendent Devinder Singh said the Amritsar-bound 03005 Up Howrah Mail coming from Kolkata was stopped by the railway authorities at 6.35 am, while the Jammu-bound 08237 UP Begampura Express had to be halted at Phagwara at 6.46 am. He said though the Begampura Express had no scheduled halt at Phagwara, it had to be stopped due to track blockade near Jalandhar.
The Amritsar-Katihar Express, the Saharsa-Amritsar Express and the Uchahar Express trains were halted at the Ambala Cantonment railway station, while the Ambala-Saharanpur passenger train was halted at the Jagadhri railway station.
At the Karnal railway station, the Swaraj Express train headed to Jammu was halted. Three trains were also halted at the Kurukshetra railway station, officials said.
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," he said in a tweet.
State Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said the PPCC firmly stands by the farmer unions' Bharat Bandh call.
"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!!" he tweeted.
Hundreds of farmers blocked the Ambala-Delhi National Highway. They put barricades on the roads leading up to the Shambhu border near Ambala and squatted in the middle of the road. The traffic towards Delhi was diverted to alternative routes.
A large number of trucks and other vehicles were stranded on both sides of the highway.
A number of farmers gathered at the new grain market in Ambala city, from where they marched towards various city markets to request the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed.
Most of the grain markets of Ambala district, the wholesale cloth market, Sarafa bazaar, educational institutes and several commercial establishments remained closed.
Shops also remained shut at some other places in Haryana, including in Karnal and Kurukshetra.
In Amritsar, a large number of farmers held a protest near the Golden Gate, the entry point of the holy city.
Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the Centre should repeal the "black farm laws" without further delay.
The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament last year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.
The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.
--- With agencies
*Ropar: Farmers sit on dharna at six places, including the railway track near Ropar railway station, bringing traffic in the district to a halt. Farmers sit on the road at the toll plaza on Ropar-Chandigarh road, Ropar-Anandpur Sahib road and Ropar-Bela road. Besides, they sit on the road near Nurpur Bedi bus stand and near Panjkoha marriage palace at Morinda.
*Muktsar: Farmers block all highways in the district. Bharat Vikas Parishad and Vyapar Mandal in association with farmer unions organise blood donation camp in Malout town.
*Sonepat: A 54-year-old protesting farmer was found dead in his tent at Singhu border in the wee hours of Monday. The deceased has been identified as Baghel Ram of Phillaur in Jalandhar district of Punjab. The body has been sent to the mortuary at the general hospital in Sonepat.
*Panipat: Farmers block Panipat-Rohtak highway near Shahpur and Mudlana villages. No impact witnessed so far in Panipat town. All markets in Panipat remain open.
*Rohtak: National and state highways wear a deserted look as people avoid going out in view of Bharat Bandh. Groups of protesting farmers stage dharnas on different highways passing through the district.
*Faridabad: No impact of the Bharat Bandh so far in Faridabad and Palwal districts. Bus, train and Metro rail functioning as usual. With the imposition of Section 144, police have been deployed at various points to prevent any untoward incident.
*Palwal: Traffic movement disrupted on the National Highway 19 near Antoha village after hundreds of farmers and supporters squat on the highway. A spokesperson from the Bharatiya Kisan Union said the blockade would continue till 4 pm. Emergency vehicles are allowed to pass without hindrance, he said. Police have diverted traffic to avoid jams.
*Jhajjar: Metro train services suspended in Bahadurgarh town in view of Bharat Bandh call.
*Complete bandh observed in Hisar district, including railway services and road transport.
*Rohtak: Trader unions oppose call for Bharat Bandh given by farmers, say shops and other commercial establishments to open as usual.
*Gurugram: No farmers at Delhi-Gurugram border. However, there is a major traffic congestion owing to heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces. Delhi Police check vehicles that leads to a jam.
*Railway track is blocked near Fatehgarh village in Charkhi Dadri district by protesting farmers.
*Rohtak: Farmers block all national and state highways passing through Rohtak. Stage dharnas at several points; protests peaceful.
*Sangrur: Farmers block Sangrur-Patiala, Sangrur-Ludhiana, and Sangrur-Bathinda roads.
*Bhiwani: Road blocked at Dhanana village.
*Hisar: A train is stopped near Ramayan village where farmers sit on dharna at a toll plaza. The Hisar-Bhiwani railway line is blocked near Ramayan village in Hisar district. Farmers block Ludas-Shahpur road in Hisar district. Farmers sit in middle of the road at Baddo Patti toll plaza in Hisar district.
*Jhajjar: Protesting farmers sit on the Rohtak-Delhi track at Bahadurgarh railway station near Tikri border. Protesting farmers raise slogans against three farm laws and the Modi govt at Bahadurgarh railway station near Tikri border.
*Karnal: Most shops in the city are closed at 9 am. Farmers take out a march in the city. Farmers will not block the NH-44 in Karnal, says Jagdeep Singh Aulakh, state core committee member, BKU (Charuni). "Our focus is on the city. We request the traders to support the farming community. So far, we have received a good response in the CM's city," says Aulakh.
*Ludhiana: Passengers of long-route trains, which get stranded at Ahmedgarh, are among the worst affected as they travel with families including children, elderly persons and patients. However, activists of social organisations hold medical assistance camp and langar for them.
*Patiala: Farmers block Chandigarh-Bathinda national highway near Passiana police station.
*Mansa: Farmers block Sirsa-Mansa road at Sardulgarh and Bathinda-Patiala road at Bhainibagha village.
*Chandigarh-Pathankot highway closed for vehicular traffic at Mangarh by protesting farmers.
*BKU Dakaunda volunteers have closed the gate of Punjabi University in Patiala.
*Ludhiana: All main and link roads passing through the district blocked for vehicular traffic. Protesting farmers, holding banners and placards against farm laws, squatting on the middle of the roads, not allowing anyone to pass through. Commuters in for major inconvenience. Police have made elaborate arrangements to avert any untoward incident, said Commissioner of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
*Kaithal: Farmers block several major roads in Kaithal, including at Titram Mor.
*Doaba Kisan Committee organises blockades at several places on highways running through Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.
*Farmers start holding protests at 19 places in Bathinda district and 10 places in Mansa district.
*Ambala: Farmers block Delhi-Ambala national highway in Shahbad, Shambhu Toll plaza, NH344 in Mullana.
*Karnal: Smooth traffic flow on the NH-44 in Karnal district. Farmers block six major roads -- Karnal-Kaithal road in Nissing, Karnal-Assandh road, Assandh-Jind road, Assandh-Safidon road, Assandh-Panipat road. Farmers are assembling in Karnal to take a march in the city. A large number of farmers are expected to assemble in the city, says Jagdeep Singh Aulakh, state core committee member, BKU (Charuni). "We will appeal to the traders to support the farmers," Aulakh says. Deployment of heavy police force and a company of RAF near Mini Secretariat.
Farmers lifted blockade from all the roads in Karnal after the bandh call ended at 4 pm.
*Road blocked by protesting farmers at Tanda Urmur.
*Morning Shatabdi from Chandigarh to Delhi delayed.
*Farmers protest during Bharat Bandh by blocking railway tracks at Barnala.
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