Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 8
Shops and commercial establishments remained shut at many places in Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday morning in view of a ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by farmer unions to protest the Centre’s three farm laws.
Petroleum dealers in Punjab closed filling stations to back the call for the nationwide strike. There are over 3,400 fuel pumps in Punjab.
In neighbouring BJP-JJP ruled Haryana, opposition parties Congress and Indian National Lok Dal have extended their support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’.
Farmers started assembling on highways and other key roads in both states from the morning.
“We will hold a protest peacefully,” a farmer said in Mohali as the airport road near the JLPL was blocked.
In Ludhiana, a group of protesters squatted on a road to express solidarity with the protesting farmers. Some protesters were seen performing kirtan near the Jagraon bridge.
Members of Muslim community also carried out a march in support of farmers in Ludhiana.
In Patiala, milk and vegetable supply was hit as agitating farmers stopped vendors from entering the city.
Members of Punjabi University teaching faculty and students closed campus gates and held protest in solidarity with protesting farmers.
Lawyers staged a dharna in support of the farmers in Ropar.
Farmer leaders have said they would block key roads and occupy toll plazas during their ‘chakka jam’ protest from 11 am to 3 pm.
Police personnel have been deployed in adequate strength in both the states to maintain law and order, officials said.
The Haryana Police had issued a travel advisory stating that people might face traffic blockades on various roads and highways of the state.
In Punjab, farmer leaders appealed to shopkeepers and traders to keep their shutters down.
“We are appealing to people to support farmers’ cause, and we are sure of getting support from all sections of society,” a leader of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said in Amritsar.
Several unions representing government employees, arthiyas (commission agents) and transporters have extended their support to the farmers’ protest.
Besides, all major political parties in Punjab — the ruling Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal have also extended their support.
Over 50,000 government employees in Punjab have taken mass casual leave in support of farmers, said Punjab Civil Secretariat Staff Association president Sukhchain Khaira.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, an apex gurdwara body, has also announced to keep its offices and institutions shut to express solidarity with the farmers.
Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Charuni has appealed to all sections of society to observe complete shutdown to support the farmers.
“Everyone should hold a peaceful protest,” he said in a video message.
In Bhiwani, farmers sat in the middle of the road in Jui village and blocked the vehicular movement. Protesters in Dhanana village staged a sit-in and blocked the main road.
Farmers in Karnal took out a march and requested shopkeepers to close their establishments till 3 pm in support of their demands.
They also blocked roads at two places in Jundla and Thari village.
In Hisar, the protesting farmers blocked the Hisar-Chandigarh highway in Sarsod village in support of the Bharat Bandh call.
Farmers along with social activists and members of opposition parties AAP and Congress staged a protest against the farm laws in Gurugram.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Police traffic advisory issued on Monday had said “the main national highways, Delhi-Ambala (NH-44), Delhi-Hisar (NH-9), Delhi-Palwal (NH-19) and Delhi to Rewari (NH-48), may also see some traffic disruptions for a short time. The peak time of impact is expected to be between 12 pm to 3 pm”.
Bathinda and Mansa districts in Punjab also witnessed a complete shutdown.
Farmers staged protests at various points in the Bathinda district and blocked the Bathinda-Amritsar national highway at Kanhiya Chowk, and near toll plaza in Jeeda village.
The Bathinda-Chandigarh highway was blocked at Lehra Bega toll plaza.
Farmers also blocked railway tracks on the Bathinda-Ambala and Bathinda-Jind railway lines.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other areas have stayed put at various Delhi border points, protesting against the new farm laws, which they fear will dismantle the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.
The government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed during the farmers’ protest at Kahniya Chowk in Bathinda when young protesters damaged the windscreen of a car belonging to an Army personal. The Army man was on his way to Bikaner but protesting farmers did not allow the vehicle to move ahead, which led to heated arguments between the two groups. However, some senior members among the protesters, sensing the situation might escalate, later allowed the car to go ahead.
Shops and commercial establishments also remained closed in Moga, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Faridkot, Barnala, and Muktsar districts.
Public transport remained off the road, train services were suspended and no movement of private vehicles was witnesses on the national and state highways, which were blocked at about 100 locations in these districts.
In Moga, the farm unions staged protests at 13 locations while the Congress and Akali workers also protested against the farm laws at two locations.
The continuous protest outside the Silo owned by Adani group of industries at Dagru village also continued on the 62nd day, on Tuesday.
At many places, local police set-up barricades to stop the movement of vehicles on the roads which were blocked by the farmers.
Police officials claimed that it was done to prevent any clash between the protesters and the commuters. However, the ambulances were allowed to move on the roads.
The Punjab Police had earlier issued a travel advisory stating that people might face traffic blockades on various roads and highways of the state.
Meanwhile, there were reports that the industries were not shut down by the managements. The multinational giant Nestle India Limited also continued to operate its production units despite the fact that its labour union had supported the farmers’ agitation.
Congress MLA Raja Warring along with his supporters staged a protest outside BKP leader and former minister Surjit Kumar Jyani’s house in Fazilka amid reports of protests outside the residences of BJP leaders in other cities and towns of the state.
Hundreds of farmers including women also protested at Mehraj, the ancestral village of Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh in Bathinda district. (With PTI inputs)