Bharat Bandh was peaceful; no untoward incident reported from anywhere: Samyukta Kisan Morcha
New Delhi, Sep 27: The "Bharat Bandh" called by farmer unions against three agricultural laws of the Centre hit normal life on Monday as protesters blocked highways and squatted on railway tracks at many places in Punjab and Haryana.
In Punjab, the ruling Congress said it firmly stands by farmer unions' "Bharat Bandh" call against the three laws. The shutdown was almost complete in the state with transport services staying suspended and shops, commercial establishments and educational institutions remaining shut at most places during the bandh. National and state highways in several districts, including Amritsar, Rupnagar, Jalandhar, Pathankot, Sangrur, Mohali, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bathinda, were blocked by the protesters.
In neighbouring Haryana too, the bandh evoked a fair response at many places where shops, educational institutions, commercial establishments and 'mandis' remained shut. The protesters blocked national highways in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Hisar, Charkhi Dadri, Karnal, Kaithal, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Panchkula districts. The bandh, however, failed to evoke much response in Chandigarh, which is the common capital of the two states and where life remained normal.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions spearheading the agitation, had earlier appealed to the people to support the bandh. SKM senior leader Yogendra Yadav said the Bharat Bandh was extraordinarily successful. He said the success of the Bandh is an answer to those who claim farmers' agitation was limited to few states only. Yadav also claimed the Bandh was successful in Haryana too.
The bandh had been called from 6 am to 4 pm after which the life returned to normal and plying of transport and other vehicles, which had been adversely affected, resumed across the two states.
All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief-and-rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies, had been exempted during the Bandh period.
At many places in Punjab and Haryana, protesting farmers used their tractor trollies to block the roads. Farmers also staged protest demonstrations raising slogans against the Union government demanding repeal of farm laws. The protesters also squatted on railway tracks at many places in the two states leaving many trains stranded.
However, in view of the inconvenience faced by passengers, some farmers and other volunteers organised 'langars' serving food to them at Karnal, Patiala and few other places. Ferozepur's Divisional Railway Manager Seema Sharma told PTI that some passenger trains had been cancelled while some other services had been rescheduled. Farmers squatted on railway tracks at many places in the two states, including at Shahbad near Kurukshetra, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh, Charkhi Dadri, Jind, Hisar, Amritsar, Patiala, Barnala and Lalru near Derabassi.
As a result, several trains were held up. The Amritsar-Katihar Express, the Saharsa-Amritsar Express, the Unchahar 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. Two trains each were also halted at Kurukshetra and Phagwara railway stations, officials said.
A tourist couple returning to Rajasthan's Udaipur after holidaying in Himachal Pradesh were stranded at Chandigarh railway station for hours as farmers had blocked the rail track at other places affecting the train movement. The couple told reporters that everyone has sympathy with farmers, but the common public should not be inconvenienced. "We are facing a lot of inconveniences," said Mahender Singh, who was also part of the tourist group returning to Udaipur from Himachal Pradesh via Chandigarh. Another passenger Pradeep Sharma, who was travelling from Bhopal to Jammu, was stranded at Kurukshetra railway station. "We have our hotel bookings and return train journey tickets. For the entire day, we have been stranded at the railway station. It has upset our entire schedule," he told reporters at Kurukshetra railway station.
Likewise, a large number of passengers were also stranded at the Karnal railway station due to farmers squatting on railway tracks near Shahbad, Kurukshetra. Many families heading to Jammu with children faced a lot of inconveniences. Expressing solidarity with the protesting farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi urged the Centre to repeal the three "anti-farmer" laws while state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said the PPCC firmly stands by the farmer unions' "Bharat Bandh" call.
"In the war of right and wrong, you cannot afford to be neutral!! We urge every Congress worker to fight with all their might against the three Unconstitutional Black Laws!!" Sidhu tweeted. Hundreds of farmers blocked the Ambala-Delhi National Highway. They put barricades on roads leading 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. Protesters also blocked Hisar-Delhi, Jind-Patiala, Jalandhar-Pathankot, Chandigarh-Ambala, Zirakpur-Patiala and several other national highways. Most of the grain markets of Ambala district, the wholesale cloth market, Sarafa Bazaar, educational institutions and several commercial establishments remained closed. Shops also remained shut at some other places in Haryana, including in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Rohtak, Sonipat and Sirsa districts.