The dawn to dusk 10-hour-long nationwide Bharat Bandh called by the 40-member farmers' front Samyukt Kisan Morcha to mark the completion of one year of their protest against the Central government's agriculture laws on Monday passed off peacefully with no major untoward incident being reported from any part of Uttar Pradesh.
Barring districts along the UP-Delhi border, the Bharat Bandh call had little impact in central and eastern districts of the state.
Normal life continued as all schools, commercial establishments and public transport functioned as usual. All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work, functioned smoothly as they were exempted from the strike along with people attending to personal emergencies.
In Lucknow, the vegetable markets on the city’s outskirts like Bakshi Ka Talab, Dubagga and Gosainganj got off to a late start but then continued to do brisk business. Chhedi Lal, a vegetable wholesaler in Dubagga, said, "We were apprehensive in the morning but no one told us not to open the market and then we got going with the daily business."
He pointed out that farmers around the state capital are mainly small farmers who still do not understand what the agitation is all about and what are the farm laws. "Support kyon karenge jab kuchh maloom hi nahi hai (Why should I support when I have no idea)?" he asked.
In Prayagraj and Kanpur Nagar, life remained normal and the cities moved at normal pace. Traffic on the highway moved normally.
A senior official of the Home department said that blockades had been set up by farmers only in districts along the UP-Delhi border and there were no reports of any impact of the Bharat Bandh call from anywhere else in the state.
In western UP, normal traffic resumed on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway late in the afternoon. The expressway was closed by the agitating farmers since morning. The Bharat Bandh was called by the farmers’ union from 6 am to 4 pm.
Meanwhile, opposition parties also supported the Bharat Bandh. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said, "The farmers of the country do not endorse the three farm laws brought in a hurry by the Centre, and are sad about it. They have been protesting for the past 10 months in the country and aggressively, especially around Delhi."
The BSP chief said that her party fully supported a peaceful bandh and demanded that the Centre withdraw all the three farm laws in the interest of the farmers.
Lending her party’s full support to the farmers’ agitation, including the Bharat Bandh call, on Monday, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who reached Lucknow on a three-day visit, attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The entire nation is standing behind the farmers in their agitation against the three farms laws brought by the Narendra Modi government to benefit his industrialists friends,” tweeted Priyanka Vadra while giving full support to the bandh call.
“Fields belong to farmers; labour done by them and the yield is also theirs but the government wants to hand over them to the industrialists,” she said, asking the prime minister to immediately take back the three “black” farm laws.
The Communist Party of India’s UP unit claimed that the Bharat Band was a big success and thanked those who extended support to it.
The CPI warned the government, saying they should read the writing on the walls or be ready to face a major setback.
In a statement, the CPI said the BJP and its governments in different states of the country tried their best to foil the Bharat Band. “The call was chiefly of farmers and workers who kept their works closed. The markets, schools remained closed in many parts of the country,” the party said.
CPI state secretary Dr Girish said the government had started arresting the left parties leaders since the night on Sunday and several of them were put under house arrest.
Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Mahasabha, ACTU, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and All India Students Association took out a march in support of the Bharat Bandh call given by Samyukt Kisan Morcha which is agitating against three farm laws in Bakshi Ka Talab which concluded Asti railway crossing on Monday.
After the conclusion of the march, the protesting leaders alleged that the Central government was not ready for a dialogue with the agitating farmers and hence the farmers were forced to take to different platforms to raise their voice and also give nationwide Bandh Call on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, CPI (ML) leader Sudhakar Yadav said the BJP aimed at establishing Angrezi Raj (British Rule) by implementing the three “black” farm laws.
He alleged that the Narendra Modi government wanted to hand over the farming sector to ‘friendly’ corporate groups but the farmers would not let it happen.
CPI (ML) leader Ramesh Singh Sengar said that the farmers’ protest would continue for a long time and it would be one of the greatest protests of the farmers against the “fascists forces”.
AISA leader Anjali, also addressed the gathering and raised issues of students, women and farmers.