March 27, 2021 8:34:33 am
Farmers’ Bharat Bandh call on Friday impacted normal life both in rural and urban parts of Punjab. Protests, according to farmers, were organised at 365 places in the state, out of which 321 were road blockades that were staged on national, state highways and even on link roads. The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings pegged the loss due to the bandh in Punjab at Rs 500 crore. There was no violent incident reported during the duration of the bandh.
While 32 farmer unions from Punjab staged dharnas at 200 places, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC) blocked road and rail traffic at 165 places in 12 districts. BKU (Ugrahan), meanwhile, created rail and road blockades at 50 places in 16 districts of Punjab. The effect of dharna was equal in rural as well as urban areas. The holy city of Amritsar observed a complete bandh and even the SGPC office stayed shut in support of the protest call.
Though in urban areas like Ludhiana district few shopkeepers had opened their shops in the morning, but at about noon, road shows were organised by people supporting farmers’ protest in various markets like Ghumar Mandi, Mall road, Pakhowal road, Chaura Bazar following which most of shops were closed.
People supporting Bharat Bandh were seen roaming in SUVs, open jeeps, cars with open roofs while making announcements urging people to close their shops to support farmers in Punjab.
Youngsters also did motorcycle marches from many markets of Ludhiana raising slogans ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Zindabaad’. All vehicles carried flags of farmer unions as well.
Most of the youngsters moving in Ludhiana markets were wearing fancy shades, black and white kurta pajamas.
“Only a few shopkeepers in Ghumar Mandi, Chaura Bazar, Mall Road were reluctant to close their shops, but following the protest march by groups supporting farmers, most of them closed the shops. There was a difference of opinion due to which a few had come and even had opened their shops at 10 am, only to close them by noon,” said Sonu Nilibar, Director of Nilibar store and office bearer of Ludhiana cloth merchant association. He, however, stated that he had voluntarily closed his store on Mall Road. A few of the jewellers kept on working by keeping shutters down and they closed work after 2 pm.
While farmers insisted that participation the bandh call was voluntary, Pankaj Sharma, general secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, said, “The bandh affected business activities as the protesters did not allow workers and staff to reach factories. Protesters forcibly closed the commercial establishments. Although industry supports the cause of protest and requests the govt to consider their legitimate demands, but industry condemns such bandhs as it affects the lives of common man. Such state sponsored bandhs are like putting spanners in the wheels of economy. There was a loss of business worth Rs 500 crores in Punjab due to a single- day bandh.”
Jagseer Singh Jhumba, a worker of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “We sat at various protest sites in the morning at 6 am itself but we went for protest marches in cities at around 11 am where we appealed people to cooperate with us and support Bharat Bandh call. Only a few had opened and the rest were already closed.”
Interestingly, a number of shopkeepers in Ludhiana and Bathinda had already decided to shut their shops and they had even flashed messages to customers in social media groups that they will be open after 5 pm.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan) was present at the protest site in Chandarpura village in Moga district. He said,’ ‘Our union jammed roads at 46 places and rail roko at 4 places.”
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda) said,
“32 farmer unions had organised protest dharas at more than 200 places and the best part of this Bharat Bandh call was that no violence happened at any place. People remained peaceful. We got support of rural as well as urban people. Support was from shopkeepers, traders, transporters, ahrtiyas as well. We thank each and every person who made this bandh call successful.”
Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC), said, ‘’Our committee did protest dharnas at 165 different places in 12 districts of Punjab and it was peaceful everywhere. We did not force anyone to close their shops but they did on their own.”
Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU), added, “Khet mazdoor was also in this bandh call and a separate protest dharna was organised at PKMU on NH-9 near Lambi village on Malaut-Dabwali road.”
Meanwhile, no political party organised a separate dharna anywhere in the state rather their workers were seen sitting in different protest dharnas in Punjab. Congress, SAD, AAP and even BSP workers sat at different protest dharnas.
Friday was the 120th day of the Delhi morcha while it was 177th day of protest at more than 100 places in Punjab.
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