Fareeha Iftikhar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The farmers have given a call for bandh as a part of their ongoing protest demanding revocation of three new farm laws. (Reuters Photo)



The farmers protesting at different borders of the national capital against the three new farm laws on Monday said they have appealed to their supporters to observe ‘bharat bandh’, scheduled on Tuesday, only between 11 am to 3 pm in order to avoid any “inconvenience” to the general public.

The farmers said that ambulances and other emergency services and those travelling to attend weddings will be allowed to ply during the chakka jam, which will be observed on the borders and highways during the same duration.

The farmers have given a call for bandh as a part of their ongoing protest demanding revocation of three new farm laws. Kulwant Singh Sandhu, 65, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, said, “We do not want to cause any inconvenience to the general public and that’s why we have appealed our supporters to observe bharat bandh till 3pm. People will resume their businesses and work after it. The call for the Bharat Bandh has been given to prove the government wrong who thinks that only a handful of farmers are opposing the new farm laws.”

Singh said the farmers have got support from several trade and transport unions and almost all the opposition parties. “Even the petrol pump associations of several states have extended the support and will remain closed till 3 pm,” he said.

Balwinder Singh Raju, president of Majha Kisan Sangarsh Committee, Punjab, said their supporters will also block roads, highways and borders as a part of the Bharat Bandh. “It will also be observed till 3 pm. It won’t cause any inconvenience since vehicles will not be plying on the roads in that duration. All the major transport associations have already decided to support us,” he said.

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Farmers at several protest sites were also seen discussing and planning for the bandh. The farmers were also seen appealing nearby shopkeepers and traders to support them.

At Delhi-Uttar Pradesh (UP) border in Ghazipur, farmers are planning to block all the four lanes of the national highway 24. Currently, the agitating farmers are currently sitting in only one lane. Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)’s Tikait faction in UP, said, “The highway will naturally remain shut because no vehicles will be on the roads till 3pm. But our supporters will make ways for ambulances, weddings and other emergency services. We have appealed to everyone to observe the strike peacefully.”

At Chilla border, connecting Delhi to Noida in UP, several farmers returned to their villages in Meerut, Agra, Etah and Firozabad to mobilise people in their hometowns for the bandh. Prem Singh Bhati, BKU coordinator in Gautam Budhh Nagar, said, “Some of us will sit here and block the border on Tuesday while others have returned to their villages to ensure proper implementation of bandh. They will return on Wednesday.”

Farmers protesting at Singhu border said that several more farmers from Punjab and Haryana will join their ongoing blockade at the border on Tuesday. Sukhwinder Singh, joint secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan committee (Punjab), said, “They will be blocking the roads on their way to Singhu border to mark the bandh. But they have been asked to allow weddings and ambulances to pass through. We will continue our sit-in here as it is.”

Also Read: Police warn strict action against disruptors, to use drones to keep an eye on protesters

Meanwhile, several student groups, artists and academicians also extended their support to the bandh call. A statement, signed by 42 academicians and artists, including JNU professor emerita Zoya Hasan and historian Irfan Habib in support of farmers, stated, “We the undersigned members of the artists community and academicians stand firmly in solidarity with the country’s farmers, lakhs of whom are protesting across different states and gathering in strength at the borders of the national capital to express their rejection of the three Farm Acts and the Electricity Amendment Act 2020….We strongly support the demand of the farmers that the three Farm Acts and the Electricity Amendment Act 2020 must be immediately repealed. We support the call for all citizens to observe ‘Bharat Bandh’ on 8th December 2020.”