Farmers all around India have declared ‘Bharat Bandh’ today. The declaration comes after days of protesting against the three farm laws in Delhi. After several inconclusive talks with the government, the farmers announced Bharat Bandh from 11 am to 3 pm today.
“We don’t want to cause problems for the common public. Therefore, we will begin at 11 am, so that they could leave for the office on time. Work hours in offices will end by 3 pm,” Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union, had said at a press conference on Monday. “Services such as ambulances, even weddings, can go on as usual. People can show their card and leave,” he added. He even said the their protests are peacefully and will continue that way. “The bandh will be observed throughout the day, but the ‘chakka jam’ (road blockade) will be on only till 3 pm,” said Darshan Pal, Punjab unit president of the Krantikari Kisan Union, who along with over 30 other farm representatives, attended all five rounds of talks with the government.
The nationwide bandh called by farmer unions in protest of the Centre’s three farm laws received widespread support Tuesday as protesters from opposition parties and several other organisations held symbolic ‘chakka jam’ demonstrations across the country. Just before the sixth- round of talks between the two sides, the farmers backed by around 15 opposition parties and several other unions, stick by their decision of the bandh. Opposition parties, which are in office in Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bengal, Kerala, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry are backing the bandh.
Shops and commercial establishments were closed, transport affected and traffic disrupted in many states, with the maximum impact felt in states such as Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Protesters blocked railway tracks at several places in West Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. In Delhi, the markets remained mostly opened even as more farmers congregated near the border areas despite heavy security. Delhi Auto-Taxi Union General Secretary Rajendra Soni said they support the demands of the farmers, but not the bandh. "Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the auto-taxi drivers have been suffering a lot. In such a situation it is not right to go on strike." Taxi unions have decided to sit out the strike. Viren Shah, Welfare Association, said his organisation did not give the bandh call, but support taxi drivers’ right to attend it.
While leaders like Rahul Gandhi are in complete favour of the bandh, Shiv Sena leaders fully support the strike but say that the bandh will not ‘disrupt normal life’ in Mumbai.
Sena leader Anil Desai also announced local trains and BEST will run as usual in the city. However, Maharashtra comes in full support of the bandh.
In West Bengal, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has extended her support to Tuesday’s bharat bandh even though “my government does not support bandhs because daily labourers are hit hard by shutdowns.” Banerjee asked her partymen to organise dharnas in support of the agitating farmers in every block in Bengal.
Home Minister Amit Shah has called protesting farmers for talk. "We have a meeting with the Home Minister at 7 pm today. We are going to Singhu Border now and from there we will go to the Home Minister," said Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Arvind Kejriwal Under House Arrest
Among all of this, another breaking news has been brought into light. Aam Aadmi Party claims Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to be under house arrest after he met protesting farmers at the Singhu border. "On the direction of the Home Ministry, the Delhi Police has put chief minister Arvind Kejriwal under house arrest ever since he visited farmers at Singhu Border. No one has been permitted to leave or enter his residence. Our MLAs were beaten. There is heavy barricading and even the house maid is not being allowed inside his house," alleged AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj. The Centre and the Delhi police deny these allegations.
“I am not present here as a Chief Minister, I have come here as a sewadar, I have come here to serve the farmers,” Kejriwal had said after his visit to the Singhu border where he surveyed sanitation and water availability.