Over 300 days of protest and over 600 lives lost protesting peacefully. The ongoing farmers protest against the three contentious farm laws of the Centre took the penultimate turn with the Bharat Bandh observed on Monday, September 27, 2021.
The Bharat Bandh called by farmers' body Samyukta Kisan Morcha affected normal life in the states of Punjab and Haryana. While shops and business in the Capital remained open and continued as usual, but the traffic, especially at Delhi's borders with Haryana and UP, remains affected. In most NDA-ruled states, the impact was negligible.
It's time Centre considered the demands of farmers: Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal once again came out in support of farmers and their demands. He said that the farmers' demands were legitimate and requested the Centre on Monday to consider them.
"We celebrate the birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh. He made the supreme sacrifice for the freedom of the nation. He did not fight for freedom for a day when farmers have to sit on the streets and protest for a year to get their demands considered."
Rakesh Tikait: Centre will have to listen
Calling Bharat Bandh successful, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait also said that Bandh had the full support of lakhs of farmers. He further said, "We can't seal everything as we have consider the movement of people and facilitate it." He also said that farm unions were ready for talks with the Government and no talks were happening.
He also called the hike in sugar cane prices by the UP government, a joke. He also apologised to those who have been suffering and facing problems due to Bharat Bandh, saying that it was a matter of their livelihoods.
Protest reaches Jantar Mantar
Trade Unions joined in the Bharat Bandh protest in support of farmers at the Delhi's Jantar Mantar. Trade organisations All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the All India Kisan Sabha were among those protesting and also raised issues such as inflation.
Assam, Arunachal, Maharashtra remain unaffected
Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Maharashtra were a few of the states that remained largely unaffected by the Bharat Bandh on Monday. Public transport operated as usual and so did the shops, markets and offices. However, members of the SUCI (Socialist Centre Unity of India) took out a protest rally, raising slogans against the Centre's three farm laws.
One more life gone, protesting
Yet another farmer's life was lost as a 65-year-old farmer ended his life on Sunday, just before the Bharat Bandh, by hanging from a pipe using a piece of cloth. The farmer had been protesting at Ghulal Toll barrier for the last 10 months.
Bandh successful, says Tikait
After the Bandh, which began at 6am and ended at 4 pm on Monday, BKU leader Tikait called it a success. "Our Bharat Bandh was a success. All the farmers came out in full support. We couldn't have sealed everything as the convenience and movement of the people is also important."
The Bandh brought everything to a halt in the state of Punjab and Haryana, especially state and national highways, link roads and railway tracks. Farmers gathered and protested at more than 350 sites in Punjab, with Punjab's Additional Director General of Police (AGDP) issuing instructions to the police force to ensure law and order at protest sites. In Haryana, highways were blocked at close to 30 places in Jind district alone.
In Punjab, especially in the Malwa region of Punjab, Sangrur, Bathinda, Ferozepur, highways were blocked by protestors at several sites, while the traffic remained affected in the other cities of Mohali, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot.
Congress supports but asked to stay out
In Punjab, while the ruling Congress party firmly announced that it stands by the demands of the farmers, reportedly at the Ghazipur protest site, Congress leader Anil Chaudhary was asked to leave. He was also told to refrain from making the issue of farm laws and the Bandh political.
This is not the first time that farmer unions have asked political parties and leaders in the opposition to stay away from the issue and refrain from giving it a political colour.