Around 10 farmer unions blocked the main national and state highways across Punjab for two hours as part of the ‘Grameen Bharat Band’ (rural India Band) called by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) on Wednesday. Four trains originating from Amritsar had to be cancelled, while 16 others had to be diverted. Most train diversions were in Amritsar region.
While Amritsar-bound Shane Punjab, Shatabdi got delayed, three trains including Malwa Express, two passenger and goods trains were stopped by agitators near Giaspura on the outskirts of the city on Ludhiana- Delhi track, officials said.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) Dakaunda, General Secretary Jagmohan Singh said that apart from 10 farm organisations, 60 other outfits participated in the strike.
Jagdev Singh from Insaaf Di Awaj said,”Mansa- Bathinda railway line was blocked for 3 hours by farmer unions. We protested against the rising inflation which is affecting farmers. Their profitability is decreasing and farmer debt is increasing.”
Divisionsional Railway Manager (Ferozepur division) said that railway staff played effective role in getting dharnas from tracks lifted and delay of trains ranged from 15 minutes to 150 minutes at various places.
BKU’s Jagmohan Singh added that no milk, vegetables, fruits, fodder were allowed to be transported to urban areas, and movement of goods from cities to villages was also stopped.
Technical Services Union and Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers Association (PSEBEA) employees working in power corporation observed complete strike against the proposed amendment in electricity act 2003. Staff on contract remained on standby to attend to complaints related to power failure in the state.
In Phillaur (Jalandhar district), BKU’s Doaba wing along with several other outfits blocked the Delhi-Amritsar National Highway, resulting in the long queues of the vehicles. State highways were blocked in Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur resulting in traffic snarls. Ludhiana – Raikot road was also blocked as part of the protest.
Apart from commuters, the protest also impacted daily wagers, small farmers, milkmen, traders and vegetable vendors.
Manjit Singh Rai of BKU Doaba said that they did not want to harass people, but there is no other way to shake up the government.
In Mansa, markets also remained closed for half day to express solidarity with the protesters. Bar Association of Mansa also did not work.
Heavy police force was deployed at several bus depots in Haryana and Punjab to ensure smooth movement of buses, officials said. However, there was no impact on private bus services in Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh.
Haryana Roadways Employees Coordination Committee claimed that as many as 2,650 buses out of roadways’ total fleet of 3,280 did not ply on state roads on Wednesday.
However, speaking to The Indian Express, Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) S N Roy claimed that there was no impact of the strike in 30 bus depots out of total 33 depots. “Most of the buses plyed on the state roads today. However, the number of passengers might be less today keeping in view the call of strike and bad weather,” said Roy. The government is in process to compile the figures of employees who participated in strike.
In a press statement, the coordination committee said that the police have arrested two employees’ leaders — Rajbir Nagar and Birender Sarot — in connection with the stir in Faridabad. “As many as 85% employees of roadways participated in the strike despite use of coercive methods by the authorities,” said committee leaders.
Sarv Karamchari Sangh, an umbrella body of the employees unions in Haryana, claimed that about three lakh employees from different departments, boards and corporations participated in the strike. Sangh’s state president Subhash Lamba said that the strike has maximum impact in the power utilities, municipal committees and urban local bodies department.
Banking services were hit in both states and UT Chandigarh as employees of public sector banks observed the strike.
Employees under the banner of Punjab Bank Employees Federation held protest rallies at several places at Chandigarh, Ludhiana and other places, office bearer of the Federation claimed. However, private banks continued to carry out their operations.
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