BOARDS AND banners in support of the farmers’ December 8 call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ have cropped up all over Ludhiana — the industrial capital of Punjab. This is a city which normally does not respond to such bandh calls. Even on September 25, when farmers had called for a Punjab Bandh, 80 per cent of the city was open. However, on Monday evening, most industrial associations had announced support for the bandh call for Tuesday.
DC office employees to go on mass leave
The DC Office Employees Union of Punjab has announced to go on mass casual leave and sit on dharnas with farmers while the Punjab Dairy Association has announced it won’t supply milk Tuesday morning. Wholesale vegetable and fruit mandis will stay closed, hotels and restaurants have also announced to stay closed in support of the bandh call given by the protesting farmers.
Stock exchange to stay closed
The Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) will also stay closed and their members have been asked to work from home. The message pasted outside the exchange says: “Tenants and visitors’ entry is strictly not allowed due to bandh on December 8. Members and clients are requested to work from home to avoid any untoward incident/loss.”
In Punjab’s Malwa region, markets, mandis, offices will stay closed. In Ludhiana, Whattsapp groups were made on Friday itself — the day the bandh call was given and by Saturday night, the Sarabha Nagar market, the most popular market of the city, had displayed several boards in support of the bandh.
“Ludhiana normally remains immune to bandh calls, but this time most of the residents are genuinely concerned and they are going out of their way to support farmers,” said Sonu Nilibar, director of Nilibar, a garment store on Mall Road. The Sarabha Nagar Market, Mall Road, Ghumar Mandi, Civil Lines etc. will stay closed. Upkar Singh, president of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), said, “We fully support the farmers and hence all our units will stay closed.”
United Cycles Parts and Manufacturers Association (UCPMA) will also be holding a symbolic protest at their Gill Road office at 11 am on Tuesday.
Hotels, restaurants to abide by Bandh call
Dyeing units will however remain open in Ludhiana. Amarveer Singh, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab, said, “Hotels and restaurants will stay closed extending support to our farmers who are protesting day and night for more than 3 months.”
Harinderjit Singh from the Punjab Dairy Association said, “No member of our dairy association will be supplying milk tomorrow. We too are part of this agitation as farm laws are going to affect us as well. We had told our consumers to bear with us for a day.”
Public buses, trucks to stay off roads
Farmer unions will be blocking state and national highways from 11 am to 4 pm and public buses, trucks will also stay off roads. Jatinder Singh, president of the Punjab Government DC Office Employees Union, Mansa, said, “All DC office employees across the state are going on mass casual leave on Tuesday. A number of us are from rural background while many of the employees working in government departments such as Mandi board, revenue department, procurement agencies are at risk of losing jobs if farm laws are implemented. Hence, we will be sitting on dharnas along with farmers in their support as well as for APMC mandis to continue as normal.”
Upkar Singh said, “These laws threaten India’s food security, destroy Indian agriculture and our farmers, lay the basis for abolishing of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and mortgage Indian agriculture and our markets to the caprices of multi-national agri-business corporates and domestic corporates. CICU urges the Government of India to resolve the issues at the earliest amicably and support the farmers to build the agriculture community strong.”
Jagmohan Singh, working committee member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), said, “We are thankful to all urbanites for supporting us in this cause. Bandh will start from 4 am and will continue for whole day. Our dharnas at Delhi border will also not get any milk supply tomorrow.”
Political parties in support
The ‘Bharat Bandh’ call has got widespread response from Punjab’s political parties as Congress will be organising dharnas at district levels in support of farmers. Same will be done by Shiromani Akali Dal, which has also cancelled its centenary celebrations which were to be organised from December 8-10.
Emergency vehicles will not be stopped
Farmers said ambulances, wedding processions or anyone going to attend a cremation/bhog will not be stopped, rather farmers themselves will clear the way for them if those roads are blocked. Volunteers will also be deployed on road to help sick people reach hospitals in case of any emergency.
Chemist stores to be closed
In a late evening message, the Ludhiana District Chemist Association — both retail and wholesale — announced to close their shops in support of farmers’ bharat bandh for the whole day. Aman Ahuja, spokesperson of Ludhiana District Chemist Association said,
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines