Bharat Bandh: Farmers block highways, rail tracks; traffic hit on Delhi, Haryana borders

Farmers protesting against the three central farm laws on Monday blocked highways and railway tracks affecting traffic in several areas during the 10-hour Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) as police increased deployment in Haryana and Delhi. Police in Delhi and Haryana stepped up security in border areas of the national capital in view of the Bharat Bandh and a senior police officer said adequate security arrangements have been made to maintain the law and order situation and prevent any untoward incident.

Police officials said patrolling has been intensified, extra personnel have been deployed at pickets, especially on all roads leading to Delhi through villages, near border areas and every vehicle entering the national capital is being thoroughly checked. “In view of Bharat Bandh, adequate security arrangements have been made as a precautionary measure. Pickets at the border areas have been strengthened and all vital installations, including India Gate and Vijay Chowk, have adequate deployment,” deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said.

No protester is being allowed to enter Delhi from the three protest sites at the city’s borders, the official said. “The security is preventive and we are fully alert. There is no call for Bharat Bandh in Delhi, but we are watching the developments and an adequate number of personnel are on the ground,” another officer said.

Shops closed, toll plazas blocked

In Punjab, farmers block the Chandigarh-Bathinda road at several places and some of them squatted at Rajpura, Bahadurgarh Toll plaza, southern bypass and railway tracks in Patiala and Nabha. A couple of passenger trains bound for Ambala Cantonment and beyond are also said to have been stuck at the Yamunanagar-Jagadhri railway station, but there is no official word yet from the Ambala Railway Division.

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In Haryana, most of the shops and establishments remained closed in Hisar, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Jind and other parts of the state. Farmers assembled at Rohad toll plaza and blocked the Rohtak-Delhi highway with trucks and tractors, while other groups blocked Rohtak-Chandigarh highway, Hisar-Chandigarh highway in Jind and Hisar-Rohtak highway near Madina toll plaza. Protesters also sat on railway tracks in Jhajjar’s Bahadurgarh, Fatehgarh village in Dadri, near Ramayana toll plaza in Hisar and other parts of the region.

Police officials said security has been tightened at the Singhu and Tikri borders where farmers have been camping for the last one year. Entry and exit gates of Metro stations from Tikri to Bahadurgarh have been closed and those travelling to Delhi faced problems.

Inderjit Singh, SKM leader, said they are observing the Bharat Bandh to give a message to the Centre to repeal the three farm laws. “We have appealed to shopkeepers, small factory owners to shut down their establishments in support of farmers till 4pm. Doctors, medical staff and those going for an emergency can pass through. We have occupied highways and railway tracks to raise our voice,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Rakesh Tikait said emergency vehicles are being allowed to ply on the roads. “Ambulances, doctors or those going for an emergency can pass through. We’ve not sealed down anything, we just want to send a message,” Rakesh Tikait was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The Bharat Bandh will be observed till 4pm by the protesting farmers.

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