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Farmers mark a year of farm laws with ‘Bharat Bandh’


Bharat Bandh, marking a year since passage of farm bills in Parliament, passes off peacefully
 

Farmers sit in protest at the Ghazipur border crossing in Delhi. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the joint front of farmer unions protesting against the three controversial farm laws, called September 27’s ten-hour-long ‘Bharat Bandh’ a success, nailing the “lie of the government’s propaganda”.

A complete shutdown was reported from states like Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Bihar, according to SKM. All kinds of institutions, markets and transport were closed in these states from 6 AM to 4 PM.

There were reports from both, Punjab and Haryana, of national highways, state highways, link roads and railway tracks being completely blocked, bringing road and rail traffic to a halt.

In other states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the shutdown evoked a mixed response.

It was on September 27, 2020, that President Ram Nath Kovind assented to and brought into force the three farm bills.

The bandh also marks ten months of the farmers’ protest, said to be the longest farmer protest till date. It was on November 26 and 27, 2020, that scores of farmers had reached Delhi’s borders to protest the three farm laws passed by the Centre.

On September 27, farmers organisations were joined by trade unions, organisations of youth and students and political parties in different parts of the country. Closure of national and state highways and blocking of railway tracks were also reported.

Traffic jams were reported at the Delhi-Gurugram border. Trains were blocked after farmers sat on the Delhi-Chandigarh railway track at the Sonepat railway station.

Traffic movement on a national highway connecting Surat to Mumbai was also blocked for some time by the protesters.

The Delhi-Meerut expressway was closed till 4 pm, due to which traffic towards Meerut was affected. The expressway was opened after the ‘bandh’ ended. The Eastern Peripheral Expressway was also temporarily closed as a precaution.

Bharat Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait called the ‘Bharat Bandh’ a success. “We had the full support of farmers. We can’t seal down everything as we have to facilitate the movement of people. We are ready for talks with government but no talks are happening,” he said.

Several political parties like the Indian National Congress, the ruling YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, Aam Aadmi Party, Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party and Bahujan Samaj Party expressed their support for the protest.

More than 605 farmers have died during the agitation so far according to SKM, including two deaths related to police brutalities and some suicides too.

“Hundreds of cases have been slapped over the past many months on thousands of protestors, including with serious charges like sedition and attempt to murder,” a statement by SKM said.

Farmers had witnessed officials commanding police to ‘break the farmers’ heads’, but had continued their struggle for justice and survival undeterred, the statement added.






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