Jaipur/Kota/Bikaner, December 8
A clash broke out between the Congress and the BJP workers in Rajasthan’s Jaipur during Tuesday’s ‘Bharat Bandh’, which otherwise evoked a mixed reaction in the state with mandis closed but several shops open and transport services running.
Markets and business activities were partially affected at other places such as Kota, Jodhpur and Bikaner. Shops in a few towns in Bundi, Baran and Jhalawar were closed to support the farmer unions’ call for a nationwide strike against the Centre’s agri laws, while others were open as usual.
Roadways buses, trucks and mini buses were seen plying on the roads as well as auto-rickshaws and e-rickshaws.
In Jaipur, the NSUI members holding a demonstration in support of protesting farmers clashed with the BJP Yuva Morcha workers outside the saffron party’s office.
Workers of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, had assembled outside the BJP state headquarters to hold a demonstration, and members from both sides confronted each other and clashed.
“We were holding a peaceful demonstration but the Yuva Morcha members hit some of our members,” NSUI spokesperson Ramesh Bhati charged.
DCP Manoj Kumar said some protestors tried to forcefully enter the BJP office and were stopped by police. He said the situation was under control, and added that there was no stone-pelting incident.
BJP state president Satish Poonia condemned the incident.
“Congress’ support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’ is unfortunate. At the behest of the government, the goons of the Congress pelted stones at the BJP office today. The Chief Minister wants to create chaos. Today’s incident is condemnable,” he said in a video message.
Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyaws and his supporters visited markets in the state capital on tractors and other vehicles, and appealed to the shopkeepers to participate in the bandh called by farmers.
The minister, who was seen driving a tractor, passed through several markets, including Sodala, MI road and in the walled city area.
Another vehicle rally was taken out in Malviya Nagar and JLN Road to show solidarity with the protesting farmers. The members were holding placards that read “No Farmers, No Food”.
Shops in several markets of Jaipur had opened in the morning but they were forced to shut later, locals alleged. Shopping malls and some restaurants were closed as well.
In Kota, Congress workers, led by the local leader Ravinder Tyagi, marched in the main markets and appealed to business and trade organisations and shopkeepers to support the farmers’ protest.
In Bikaner, most business establishments were open, barring the shops in the main markets at the district headquarters. Mandis were closed.
Jodhpur division also witnessed partial impact of the strike.
The bandh has been called against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, all of which were passed by Parliament recently.
The three farm laws enacted in September have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain. PTI