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Bharat Bandh evokes mixed response across country

In Odisha, on the other hand, streets are giving a deserted look as all government offices are closed

Tuesday December 8, 2020 10:46 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

Bharat Bandh

New Delhi: The farmers unions have claimed that the nationwide strike called by them was successful and the people supported their cause while the Bharat Bandh on Tuesday evoked a mixed response across the country.

After the bandh the farmers addressed a joint press conference and claimed that they have got support from two more farmers unions and now they are a total of 32 organisations.

Farmer leader Gurnam Singh said that the government which said that it will not let the farmers enter Delhi has invited them for talks. The farmers are slated to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah without any preconditions.

The deadlock between the farmers and the government is continuing with both sides not able to reach a consensus on the issue.

The farmers said that this movement is under the banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha. "The government should see that it is not the shutdown of only farmers but of the whole nation and now they should understand that there is no way out," said Gurnam Singh.

Bhog Singh Maansa of the BKU claimed that "All the producers, consumers are with us. From labourers to corporates everyone has supported us."

"It's not only Kisan, this is a big achievement because of more than 450 associations and everyone has associated himself with the movement and shutdown. Kaveri Delta in Tamil Nadu was shut down completely."

The shutdown -- from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- focused primarily on "chakka jams" (no vehicular movement). However, its effect on the movement of vehicles was partial as no major jams were reported. The morning peak hour traffic movement was by and large normal across the country except in a few states.

A partial impact of the Bharat Bandh was seen in vegetable 'mandis' in the national capital and various other states. There was some impact of the 'Bandh' call on interstate bus services with passengers reaching railway stations a bit early.

State and city borders were open, and public vehicles like auto-rickshaws, taxis, aggregator cabs, a few heavy vehicles carrying essential items were witnessed moving on the roads.

Wholesale markets, retail vegetable markets and local vendors were functioning partially in many states.

A cold response was seen in Tamil Nadu while there was growing solidarity for the farmers cause in Odisha and Telangana. In Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party workers stopped the Bundelkhand Express at Prayagraj, leading to a scuffle with the police as Samajwadi Party workers squatted on the railway track.

Very few vehicles were seen on the roads in Bihar in the morning as the Mahagathbandhan led by Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav spearheaded support for the 'Bharat Bandh'.

Mixed start to 'Bharat Bandh' in Maha, Bengal; Massive protest in Punjab, Haryana

The 'Bharat Bandh' called by protesting farmers and supported by various political parties elicited a mixed early response in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and other states on Tuesday morning. But in Punjab and Haryana, the epicentre of farmers' latest round of protest, there are reports of massive protests.

In Odisha, on the other hand, streets are giving a deserted look as all government offices are closed. Educational institutions, are either closed or running with minimum staff because of Covid-19.

Mumbai, other Maharashtra cities unaffected

In major cities of Maharashtra like Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, and Kolhapur, the morning peak-hour traffic was by and large normal, though farmer organisation Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has announced road and rail blockades later.

Though wholesale markets remained shut, retail vegetable markets and local vendors were seen in many cities, besides public service bus services, taxies, auto-rickshaws, aggregator cabs, a few heavy vehicles carrying essential tems, and others providing items of daily use.

The 'Bharat Bandh' is supported by the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, most Dalit parties, the CPI, CPI-M and other Leftist parties, several student organisations and students of major academic institutions, Trade Unions Joint Action Committee comprising scores of trade unions, including all bank unions in the state, besides many other big and small groups with employees in the trade and commerce sectors.

SP, Cong protest in Uttar Pradesh

Farmers are mostly not very visible in protests during the 'Bharat Bandh' in Uttar Pradesh but it is the Samajwadi Party and the Congress that are taking to the streets to protest against the farm laws.

Samajwadi Party (SP) workers began protests early in the day, stopping the Bundelkhand Express in Prayagraj, blocking traffic in Kanpur, Basti, and several other districts. SP leader Manoj Singh Kaka was put under house arrest in Chandauli.

Congress leader Ajay Shukla was also put under house arrest in Bareilly.

A heavy deployment of police force was seen outside the residence of SP president Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party office -- both located on the Vikramaditya Marg -- on Tuesday.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has clearly warned that anyone trying to force closure of shops would be sternly dealt with.

Lukewarm response in Karnataka

The 'Bharat Bandh' call given by nearly a dozen farmer Associations on Tuesday in protest against the three farm laws enacted by the Centre recently failed to evoke much response across Karnataka.

Except minor incidents like farmer's leaders asking shopkeepers to shutdown their establishments were reported from districts like Mandya, Hassan, Mysuru and other rural parts where farmers associations enjoy a certain degree of clout.

Like Bengaluru almost all major cities -- Managluru, Hubli-Dharwad, Belagavi -- did not evoke much of a response here too.

All government offices, banks and shops were functioning normally with the Karnataka farmers Associations deciding to observe a 12-hour Bharat Bandh (India Shutdown), across the state other than the tech hub.

Farmers Associations in Karnataka had made it clear on Monday itself that their Bandh would be observed across the state except Bengaluru, hence it did not affect Bengaluru's life.

Several workers' unions, including the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) employees are also extending moral support to the bandh call.

Widespread protests in Punjab, Haryana

Activists from various farmer organisations on Tuesday held widespread protests in Punjab and Haryana against the new farm laws they say will destroy livelihoods.

Heavy police force has been deployed in both the states to deal with any untoward situation. However, there was no report of any violence.

Even shopkeepers and petrol pump owners in most of the major towns in both the states shut their establishments expressing solidarity with the farmers.

According to reports, some protesters tried to stop vehicular traffic in Amritsar district.

Lakhs of government employees in Punjab decided to go on mass casual leave, while the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) kept all its institutions closed for the day.

The farmer unions announced to hold 'dharnas' at 60 places in the state, besides blocking all rail traffic.

Some highways and roads were also blocked. The traffic in and around Chandigarh was severely affected.

Protests were also reported from Hisar, Rohtak, Sonipat and other towns in the neighbouring Haryana.

The Haryana government has ordered a security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Tuesday's protest.

Cong MPs from Punjab protest at Jantar Mantar

Several Congress MPs from Punjab continued to sit at the Jantar Mantar here for the second day on Tuesday to support farmers agitating to demand a repeal of the three farm laws.

These MPs have been sitting on the 'dharna' since Monday morning in support of farmers protesting on the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-UP borders since November 26. Ravneet Singh Bittu, Kulbir Singh Zira, Jasbir Singh Gill and Gurjeet Singh Aujla were present at the protest spot in central Delhi on Tuesday.

Aujla said:

"We have been sitting here since last morning. It is our responsibility to support the farmers... we have followed all instructions of the Prime Minister during the nationwide lockdown. But the farmers have been sitting on the streets; so please support the farmers for a day on their call for 'Bharat Bandh'."

"Joined by Khadoor Sahib MP Jasbir Singh Gill and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu. Had the morning tea over press talk at Jantar Mantar," he also tweeted.

The MPs are also demanding a 'Winter Session' of Parliament which they claimed the government was deliberately trying to delay.

Odisha Civil Services -2019 (Main) Exam posptoned

The Odisha government on Monday announced that all its offices will remain closed on Tuesday in view of Bharat Bandh called by the farmers and other organisations.

However, the emergency services provided by the government will remain operational, it said in a statement.

It said transport and vehicular movements are expected to be affected by the bandh in the state.

The Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) has postponed the Odisha Civil Services -2019 (Main) examination scheduled to be held on Tuesday.

"In view of nationwide strike Bharat Bandh and taking into cognizance of the difficulties to be faced by the candidates in approaching the examination centres, the OCS-2019 Main Examination (GS-I and GS-II) scheduled to be held on December 8 is hereby postponed," said an OPSC notice.

It said the exams will be conducted on January 2, 2021.

Farmers' organisations will observe the country-wide bandh from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday opposing three farm laws by the Centre.

Buses off the road in Hyderabad

Buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation in Telangana went off road amid growing support for farmers groups-called Bharat Bandh that received support from all parties in the state except the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With employee unions of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) backing the shutdown call, buses were confined to depots.

Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station and Jubilee Bus Station, two of the biggest and busiest bus stations in Hyderabad, wore a deserted look. Some commuters who reached the bus stations early morning to board buses to their destinations were seen returning disappointed.

Most of the cabs and auto-rickshaws also went off the roads as the unions of taxi and auto drivers backed the Bharat Bandh in support of the demand by farmers' groups asking for rollback of the new farm legislations by the Central government.

With the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) declaring total support to the bandh, it is likely to evoke good response across the state.

Opposition Congress, Left and other parties, farmers' and people's organisations and trade unions are also backing the protest.

Ministers, MPs, state legislators and other public representatives will be participating in protests across the state. Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao has appealed to party cadres to make the bandh a total success.

PM Modi's effigies burnt in West Bengal

The 'Bharat Bandh' called received partial response in West Bengal too with protesters burning the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some business honchos on road here.

The protesters staged a road blockade near Lake Town and Bangur virtually choking the the key arterial stretch that connects Shyambazar through Dum Dum. West Bengal's Left Front-backed organisations also gathered at Kolkata's Jadavpur 8-B bus stand area supporting the shutdown call on Tuesday. They will take out a rally extending support to the shutdown call.

Tram and bus services were also disrupted in Kolkata's College Street area as agitators staged protests on Tuesday morning. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) youth arm members also demonstrated at Esplanade area in support of the shutdown.

West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress has extend "moral support" to the nationwide strike and in solidarity will stage sit-ins in various parts of the state for the next three days.

Massive response in Bihar

Very few vehicles were seen on roads in state capital Patna on Tuesday morning as the Mahagathbandhan led by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav is spearheading the support to the 'Bharat Bandh' here.

The RJD has appealed to his supporters to come out on the streets and support the farmers' protesting against the three central farm laws.

The farmers' agitation is expected to be successful across the state, especially in Maoist-hit district like Arwal, Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Kaimur, Lakhisarai, Jamui, and Begusarai.

These districts are dominated by the Left parties, especially CPI-MLL along with north Bihar districts like Vaishali, Chapra, Siwan, Gopalganj, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Madhepura, Samastipur, Madhubani, Seetamarhi, and Supaul which are RJD strongholds.

The shutdown is also expected to be successful in Seemanchal districts like Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj, and Katihar etc.

Most people in Patna preferred to stay indoors, stepping out only for important chores.

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