For ten months now, hundreds of farmers have remained parked at Delhi's borders protesting against three contentious farm laws. Despite several rounds of talks with the Centre the deadlock is yet to be resolved and the protest continues with no end in sight. Against this backdrop, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Monday called a called Bharat Bandh. The protest is slated to be in place from 6 am to 4 pm today.
Commuters looking to enter Delhi from various points faced difficulty on Monday as the police had put barriers at the border to keep a vigil on the farmers entering the national capital. Heavy police presence at various places in Haryana and Punjab was seen to maintain law and other in view of the shutdown-call by farmers, who parked their tractors on highways and major link roads in both the states and squatted on the road.
Traffic came to a standstill across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the morning as major highways were blocked by protesting farmers. Visuals from the Gurugram-Delhi border showed a massive queue of vehicles waiting for the Delhi Police and Paramilitary Jawans to check and allow entry into the national capital.
Delhi Traffic Police has said the vehicular movement has been closed from Uttar Pradesh towards Ghazipur. Gurugram saw major traffic congestion due to the heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces. Delhi-Amritsar National Highway has been blocked at Shahabad in Haryana's Kurukshetra. The National Highway 44 in Haryana have also been blocked. Farmers have also blocked the Shambhu border on the Punjab-Haryana border.
Meanwhile the Indian Railways have also been affected with some trains being cancelled in light of the agitation. Rail operations in Delhi, Ambala and Firozepur divisions were impacted with people sitting on tracks. More than 20 railway tracks in Delhi were blocked by protesting farmers. Over 20 trains in the Ambala and Firozepur division have been affected, according to Northern Railway.
On the Tikri boder, farmers sat on the railway tracks at Bahadurgarh railway station. In Amritsar's Devidaspura village, protesters agitating against the three farm laws were seen sitting on railway tracks at in support of the Bharat Bandh.
""Bharat bandh has been organised to send our message to the government. Ambulances, doctors or those going for an emergency can pass through. We have not sealed down anything. We appeal to the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed for now and open only after 4 pm. No farmer is coming here from outside. The government will have to accept our demand, they have to in the coming 10 months," Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait told news agency ANI.
With the bandh underway many Opposition leaders have also lent their support to the farmers. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter to extend support to the protesters. "Kisano ka ahimsak satyagraha aaj bhi akhand hai, lekin shoshankar sarkar ko ye nahi pasand hai, isliye aaj Bharat Bandh hai (Farmers' non-violent satyagraha is resolute even today, but the exploitative government does not like this and that's why it is Bharat Bandh today)," he tweeted.