Protest against farm laws rages on

| | New Delhi
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Protest against farm laws rages on

Saturday, 26 September 2020 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

Protest against farm laws rages on

Normal life affected in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, TN, Bihar, Karnataka, Telangana

Thousands of protesting farmers spilled on the streets in several parts of the country hitting normal life and rail and road traffic in a big way as part of their “Bharat bandh” protest against the farm bills.

Massive protests were seen in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Bengaluru, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, etc.

After holding separate protests, farmers under the banners Bharti Kisan Union Krantikari, Kirti Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and BKU (Lakhowal) with support of political parties, including the Congress, the RJD and the Trinamool Congress, as well as 10 central trade unions blocked highways, railway tracks, disrupted traffic and brought life to a standstill in several parts of the country.

According to reports, farmers blocked highways which include Chandigarh-Delhi, Amritsar Delhi, Delhi-Dehradun, Ayodhya Lucknow, Baghpat-Badayun, Bommanahalli on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu highway.  Meanwhile, farmers from Punjab have extended the rail roko agitation till September 29.

In Punjab, agitating farmers blocked roads, including highways. Road blockades caused hardships to commuters in both States and life to a standstill in Bathinda, Jalandhar, Patiala, Moga, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Barnala, Faridkot, Muktsar, Mansa, Bathinda and other districts of Malwa belt.

Farmers accompanied by their family members, including mothers, wives and daughters converged in large numbers at various places in Amritsar, Ferozepur, Barnala and staged sit-in and held demonstrations at all the entry points. Shops, commercial establishments and vegetable markets at many places remained shut. Shopkeepers have been appealed to keep their shops shut in support of farmers. Buses of the State-owned Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) remained off-road. The supply of essential commodities was hit badly across Punjab. The supply of milk was also partially affected in many areas.

In Muktsar, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal led a tractor march from his Badal village residence. While he drove the tractor, wife and former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal sat beside him. Sukhbir led a tractor march from his residence in Badal village to Lambi.  Prominent Punjabi singers, including Harbhajan Mann and Ranjit Bawa, took part in a farmers’ protest in Nabha.  Farmers at several places in the State started gathering on roads to stop the movement of traffic.   Women protesters under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee took out a protest march in Amritsar.

A 33-second video shot on the Amritsar-Pathankot highway shows some protesters making way for an ambulance. A group of protesters, holding placards, clear up the road as the ambulance followed by a car move ahead. Some of the farmers are seen sitting on a tractor, while some trucks are blocking the road. In Barnala, a tractor was set on fire by protesters against the farm Bills.

Punjab farmers blocked the Sangrur-Patiala, Chandigarh-Bathinda and Ambala-Rajpura-Ludhiana and Moga-Ferozepur roads. In Patiala, essential supplies, including milk and poultry supply, were hit as farmers held blockades on roads leading to the city. Hundreds of farmers held a protest and blocked the Sangrur-Patiala highway. In Moga, farmers blocked the rail and road traffic on the national highway at Dagru village on the border of Moga and Ferozepur districts.

Meanwhile, Haryana farmers blocked the Rohtak-Jhajjar road. Farmers held protests at several places, including Rewari and Yamunanagar.

But, the protesting farmers got a mixed response in cities as most of the shops in cities like Karnal, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Kaithal remained open even as the farmers took out protest marches and requested the shopkeepers to support their agitation.

Farmers from NCR area blocked the Delhi-Noida expressway for over three hours. About hundreds of farmers gathered on a key road in Noida prompting deployment of police in riot gear that kept them from proceeding towards Delhi. In parts of Uttar Pradesh, farmers blocked the Ayodhya-Lucknow highway for several hours.

Farmers also blocked the Delhi-Meerut highway in Modinagar near Ghaziabad. Farmers from the State’s Kheri district have also gathered in protest. BKU leaders have blocked the Baghpat’s Badayun road. Another clip from UP’s Hapur shows a large number of farmers helping an ambulance find its way through the crowd.

In the poll bound State Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav drove a tractor while his brother - Tej Pratap Yadav - sat atop it in Patna. The video is now doing the rounds on social media. The “tractor march” started from Tejashwi’s official residence located behind Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s residence on Anne Marg in Patna. In violation of coronavirus-related guidelines like social distancing, a huge number of protesters then proceeded towards the Governor’s House. They were stopped by the Bihar Police briefly for security reasons. However, permission was later granted to them to move towards Bailey Road.

The “tractor march” was scheduled to take a round of the Income Tax roundabout, Dak Bungalow Chowk and end at the RJD office on Veerchand Patel Road. In the wake of the march, normal traffic was badly hit in Patna, especially on Bailey Road. RJD workers Darbhanga took out protest while riding buffaloes.

In the south, members of the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association held a protest near Bommanahalli on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu highway. Around 250 farmers have been taken into preventive custody at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru. In Tamil Nadu, farmers from the National South Indian River Interlinking Farmers’ Association protested in Trichy with human skulls, chained hands and nooses tied around their necks.

In West Bengal, members of farmers’ bodies loyal to the Left parties staged protests in various parts of State.  CPI (M) farmers wing “Sara Bharat Krishak Sabha” and those of other Left partners such as CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP took out rallies in the districts and blocked roads for some time.

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