Bharat Bandh: Trains hit, roads blocked in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana
As the massive farmers' agitation at Delhi's borders enters its fourth month, the protesters have given a call for a nationwide strike or Bharat Bandh today. It will be observed for 12 hours starting 6 am and is expected to hit rail and road transport services across states like Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Here are all the key developments.
The Ghazipur border connecting Delhi and UP has been blocked by the protesters. They have also jammed Ambala's GT Road and railway track near Shahpur. Meanwhile, according to the Indian Railways, train services have been hit at 32 locations while four Shatabdi trains have been canceled. Separately, Odisha Education Department has reportedly announced that all schools will remain closed today.
However, a Delhi traders' organization said that shops and factories will remain operational. "We discussed it with business owners and traders. Most of them said they support the demands of the farmers and the Centre should find a solution to the issue. However, most traders want to keep their business establishments open on Friday as they have been accruing losses due to coronavirus."
In a video message, Darshan Pal, a leader of the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), had said that farmers will stop the supply of vegetables and milk on Friday as part of the protest. SKM is an umbrella body of farmers' unions in India.
The strike was also observed in Andhra Pradesh where members of Left parties demonstrated at Maddilapalem against the central government's farm laws as well as the privatization of the Vizag Steel Plant, ANI reported. Further, a rally has been planned to be organized at National Highway-16 later in the day as part of the protest.
The ongoing strike has garnered support from leaders of several Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). "The history of India has witnessed that only 'Satyagraha' ends atrocities, injustice, and arrogance. May the movement be in the interest of the country and be peaceful!" former Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted this morning.
भारत का इतिहास गवाह है कि सत्याग्रह से ही अत्याचार, अन्याय व अहंकार का अंत होता है।— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 26, 2021
आंदोलन देशहित में हो और शांतिपूर्ण हो!#आज_भारत_बंद_है
To note, this is the second nationwide strike called by the protesting farmers. The first Bharat Bandh was held on December 8 and was observed in several states such as Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Maharashtra, among others.
Thousands of farmers, from states like Punjab, Haryana, and UP, have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest against three agricultural laws, passed last year. They are demanding a complete withdrawal of the laws and multiple rounds of discussions between them and the government have failed to end the deadlock. The farmers claim that the laws will make them vulnerable to big corporates.