THE BHARAT bandh called by protesting farmer groups saw maximum response in Punjab and Haryana, where roads were blocked and markets remained closed on Tuesday. The shutdown, backed by most Opposition parties and trade unions, also had some impact in states like Odisha, Maharashtra and Bihar.
In Punjab and Haryana, shops and commercial establishments were closed as were many fuel pumps. Farmers assembled at highways and other key roads in both states since morning.
Over 50,000 government employees took mass casual leave in support of farmers, said Punjab Civil Secretariat Staff Association president Sukhchain Khaira.
In neighbouring Haryana, most of the key roads including national highways were blocked for over three hours.
Officials said the bandh was peaceful.
Farmer unions had threatened to block national highways and occupy toll plazas across the country during a “chakka jam” protest from 11 am to 3 pm. Security was stepped up as protests were held in some places. Protesters also blocked railway tracks at several places in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.
In Delhi, apart from Azadpur Mandi, most markets remained open.
There were reports of clashes between Congress and BJP workers in Jaipur, where mandis were closed but shops remained open.
In Maharashtra, wholesale markets in major cities like Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad were shut. Retail shops and Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) were closed in many parts of the state.
In West Bengal, where the ruling Trinamool Congress joined the Congress and the Left in supporting the shutdown but stayed away from enforcing it, the response was mixed. Railway tracks were blocked in several places and there were sit-ins on major roads.
Life was hit in Bihar too with train tracks, highways and inner roads teeming with protesters as Opposition parties extended their support. In Jehanabad, the movement of Patna-Palamu Express was obstructed for a few minutes until the bandh supporters, squatting on the tracks, were chased away by the police.
Train services were also affected in Odisha as activists of farmers’ organisations, trade unions and political parties held sit-ins on tracks in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Balasore. Elsewhere in the state, normal life was hit with markets and offices shut and Congress and Left supporters blocking major roads.
Major cities in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh were deserted with most business establishments closed and public transport keeping away.
In Assam, shops pulled down shutters, protesters blocked traffic and demonstrations were staged but most offices were functioning. Dozens of protesters were detained, officials said.
The ruling TRS and Opposition parties, including the Congress and various unions, held protests across Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, the Opposition DMK and its allies, including the Congress, held protests across the state but life was mostly unaffected. In Puducherry, however, the bandh call evoked a near total response.
Normal life was affected in parts of Karnataka as farmers and workers hit the roads. Many organisations in the state came out in support of the bandh. In some states, including Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, life continued unimpeded.
In a statement, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said that over 50 lakh people participated in 20,000 places to make the Bharat Bandh “successful”.
Addressing a press conference at Singhu, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, BKU president, Haryana, said: “We thank everyone for participating in the protest and making it a super bandh. The farmers demonstrated that we can carry out protests in a peaceful manner.”
– With ENS, PTI inputs