Several trains were cancelled, highways and key roads blocked and thousands stranded for hours as a nationwide 10-hour shutdown disrupted lives across parts of India, particularly in the north.
The protest, where women had taken the lead a few months ago, witnessed no active female participation at Ghazipur border today.
Expressing support for protesting farmers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the farmers’ non-violent ‘satyagraha’ is still resolute.
The SKM claimed in a statement that its call for a shutdown had received an “unprecedented and historic” response from more than 23 states and not a single untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
Bharat Bandh: Farmers block highways, squat on rail tracks
Here’s how the bandh impacted the country:
* The 6 am to 4 pm Bharat Bandh, which saw demonstrations and rallies in many places, passed off relatively peacefully with no reports of injuries or serious clash.
* The impact was felt the most around Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, the Centre of the farm protests, and also in large pockets of Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
* Protesters blocked highways and arterial roads and squatted on tracks in several places from the morning. The blockade was lifted at 4 pm.
* Around 50 trains were affected by the Bharat Bandh, Railways said.
* In Delhi, markets remained open and business activities were largely unaffected, though massive traffic snarls were witnessed in border areas due to road blockades by protesters and security checks by police.
* Security was beefed up along the borders of Ghaziabad and Noida with Delhi while traffic movement on some key routes was hit in the morning due to the Bandh.
* The Bandh hit normal life in Punjab and Haryana as protesters blocked highways and squatted on railway tracks at many places in the two northern states.
* Farmers blocked other roads leading into the national capital, including at Ghazipur in western Uttar Pradesh. Not far away in Sonipat in Haryana, some farmers squatted on tracks. In nearby Patiala in Punjab, too, members of the BKU-Ugrahan sat on the tracks to register their protest.
* Punjab saw a complete shutdown in many places, including Moga where farmers blocked national highways.
* In Haryana, highways in Sirsa, Fatehabad and Kurukshetra were blocked.
* Demonstrations and rallies were held across the Jammu district in support of the Bharat Bandh.
* The effect of the Bandh was visible in many districts of Rajasthan, including agriculture-dominated Ganganagar and Hanumangarh where the major mandis and markets remained closed, and farmers took out rallies on major roads and held meetings.
* The Bandh failed to evoke any response in Arunachal Pradesh as all services, including public transport, banks and commercial establishments, were operating normally in the frontier state.
* Assam remained unaffected as public transport operated as usual, markets were open and offices registered usual attendance. Opposition Congress, which supported the bandh, did not organise any protest in the state.
* Vehicular movement was disrupted in several parts of Jharkhand as supporters of the Bharat Bandh blocked roads and highways, and shops were shut in state capital Ranchi, while government offices and banks functioned as usual.
* Highways, roads and railway tracks were blocked in several places across Bihar as the Bandh evoked a mixed response in the state.
* Left activists blocked roads and railway tracks across West Bengal in support of the Bandh, but normal life remained largely unaffected in the state where markets and shops were opened as usual and public transport operated almost normally.
* Images from Kolkata showed protesters swarming a section of a railway track. Similar images came in from West Midnapore with Left Front supporters blocking the IIT Kharagpur-Hijri railway line.
* In Odisha, markets were shut and public transport stayed off roads as the Bandh hit normal life, with supporters of the shutdown, including members of Congress and Left parties, picketing at important junctions across the state amid rains.
* The Bandh evoked a mixed response in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh as most of the shops and establishments remained open in major cities of the state.
* The Bandh call had no major impact in Madhya Pradesh as day-to-day and commercial activities went on as usual in the state.
* Gujarat largely remained peaceful, though there were reports of highways being blocked briefly which affected traffic movement, officials said.
* Commercial establishments and local transport were operating as usual and normal life remained unaffected across Maharashtra even as various non-BJP parties held demonstrations and bike rallies in parts of the state in support of the Bharat Bandh.
* In the coastal state of Goa, all services, including public transport, banks, trains and commercial establishments, operated normally as the Bandh failed to evoke any response.
* In Kerala, where the strike was supported by the ruling LDF and the opposition Congress-led UDF, KSRTC bus services were off the road with almost all trade unions in the state taking part.
* All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief and rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies were exempted from the strike.
* Puducherry witnessed a mixed response to the day-long bandh as only government-run buses operated on roads with fewer number of passengers and attendance of students in government schools was less than usual.
* Ruling LDF and opposition UDF supported-hartal disrupted daily life in Kerala due to closure of shops and non-operation of public transportation, but it was generally peaceful as private means of travel was unaffected, with one solitary incident of violence being reported from Kozhikode district.
* In solidarity with the nationwide strike demanding repeal of the Centre’s farm laws, farmer bodies, trade unions, including those backed by the ruling DMK and Left parties staged protests across Tamil Nadu.
* Activists of political parties, including the Congress, Left parties and TDP held protests at various places in Telangana in support of the Bandh.
* The ‘Bharat Bandh’ did not have any major impact on normal life in Karnataka in the initial few hours, with all business and establishments functioning normally and transport services available.
* The Bandh evoked a lukewarm response in Andhra Pradesh despite the YSR Congress government lending support to it. Only at a few places like Tirupati, Anantapuramu and Kadapa did the opposition parties stage protests against the farm laws.
* Many non-NDA parties extended support to the bandh. These included the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left parties and Swaraj India. The YSR Congress government in Andhra Pradesh had also announced support to the Bharat Bandh.
The three laws — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — were passed by Parliament in September last year.
Farmer groups have alleged the laws will end the ‘mandi’ and the MSP procurement systems and leave farmers at the mercy of big corporates. The government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced and asserted that these steps will help increase farmers’ income.
(With inputs from agencies)