New Delhi/ Chandigarh: Protesters on Saturday blocked several key roads in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, while scattered demonstrations were held in several other states during a three-hour 'chakka jam' called by the farmer unions agitating against the Centre's new farm laws.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait declared that their protest on Delhi's outskirts will continue till October 2 and an effort will be made to "connect every village" with the agitation.
Nearly 50 protesters were detained at Shaheedi Park in the national capital, amid stepped-up security by authorities which suspended internet at the protest sites of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri as well as adjoining areas for 24 hours till Saturday night and closed entry and exit facilities at 10 prominent Delhi Metro stations for few hours.
Scores of protesters were also held briefly by police in other states for blocking roads.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmer unions protesting the three farm laws, had said on Friday that the peasants, barring Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, will block national and state highways for three hours between 12 noon and 3 PM.
Tikait claimed inputs had been received regarding some "miscreants trying to disrupt peace" during the "chakka jam".
"Because of these inputs, we had decided to call off the 'chakka jam' in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand," the 51-year-old Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader, credited with reviving the farmers' stir, said.
Protesters also stalled traffic on roads in parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karanataka.
No untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
Raising slogans against the Centre, many farmers parked their tractor-trailers or squatted in the middle of roads in Punjab and Haryana, blocking several highways, including the Chandigarh-Zirakpur, Amritsar-Pathankot, Tarn Taran-Kapurthala, Ferozepur-Fazilka, Muktsar-Kotkapura, Bathinda-Chandigarh, Ludhiana-Jalandhar, Panchkula-Pinjore and Ambala - Chandigarh highway Rustic farmer songs blared from speakers and people perched atop truck-tractors hoisted the tricolour on the KMP Expressway.
Biscuits and fruits were distributed to the protesting farmers sitting on the road. Those coming to the stretch with their vehicles were politely informed about the protest and requested to turn back.
"We don't want to create any inconvenience for the people. That is precisely the reason why the call given was for three hours only. Security forces have been blocking -- our and their passage -- for so many days, we expect the 'aam aadmi' to co-operate with us for some hours at least," said Ajit Ahluwalia (29) , from Haryana's Hisar.
Authorities in the national capital and elsewhere had intensified vigil on Saturday in the light of the violence during the farmers' tractor parade on January 26 in Delhi.
In Rajasthan, farmers at many places including Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Dholpur and Jhalawar stalled traffic on the highways and main roads and held demonstrations, police said.
The Congress and Left parties too held protests in some states in support of the 'chakka jam' called by the agitating farmer unions.
'Rasta roko' protests were staged in Karad and Kolhapur cities in Maharashtra.
At least 40 protesters, including senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan's wife Satvasheela Chavan, were detained for holding a protest on a busy road at Kolhapur Naka in Karad in western Maharashtra this afternoon, a police official said.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader Raju Shetti and others were detained briefly in Kolhapur.
In Telangana, police said several people were taken into preventive custody as leaders of opposition parties joined the farmers in 'Raasta Roko' protests on various.
Farmers blocked highways in different parts of Karnataka to show their solidarity, following a call given by various farmers' associations led by Kuruburu Shanthakumar. A few pro-Kannada organisations too came in support of the agitators.
The demonstrations were held in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kolar, Koppal, Bagalkote, Tumakuru Davangere, Hassan, Mangaluru, Haveri, Shivamogga and Chikkaballapura and protesters courted arrest in some parts of the state.
Condemning the protests, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers D V Sadananda Gowda said the Narendra Modi government has implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee report to address the agrarian distress and farmers' suicide.
Protests were also held in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
This is part of the pan India stir "for seeking justice for farmers. This is not for political purposes or to inconvenience the general public," President, coordination committee of Tamil Nadu All Farmers' Association, P R Pandian told reporters.
Ahead of the nationwide 'chakka jam' called by the farmer unions protesting the Centre's new agri laws, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the peaceful 'satyagraha' of the 'annadatas' is in national interest as the farm laws are "harmful" for the country.
Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also slammed the government over the farmers issue by posting on Twitter a picture of the multi-layered barricading at one of the farmer protest sites.
"Why are you scaring us with the wall of fear?" she tweeted along with the picture.
The Congress had on Friday extended support to the countrywide 'chakka jam', saying party workers will stand shoulder to shoulder with farmers in their protest.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh demanding the rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.