Farmers’ Bharat Bandh call leaves commuters stranded as buses stay off roads in Punjab - Hindustan Times
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Farmers’ Bharat Bandh call leaves commuters stranded as buses stay off roads in Punjab

By, Chandigarh/jalandhar/bathinda/amritsar
Feb 17, 2024 07:54 AM IST

Punjab Roadways, Punbus and PRTC Contract Workers’ Union are supporting the SKM’s bandh call. During the day, farmers held demonstrations at many places across Punjab under the banner of the SKM.

Commuters in Punjab faced inconvenience on Friday as buses stayed off the roads in response to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s (SKM) Bharat Bandh call to pressurise the central government to accept farmers’ demands, including a legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP).

Members of the trade union and Saunkat Kisan Morcha during a protest in Bathinda on Friday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Members of the trade union and Saunkat Kisan Morcha during a protest in Bathinda on Friday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

Punjab Roadways, Punbus and PRTC Contract Workers’ Union are supporting the SKM’s bandh call. During the day, farmers held demonstrations at many places across Punjab under the banner of the SKM.

Farmer organisations, including the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), Bharatiya Kisan Union (Qadian) and Kirti Kisan Union are taking part in the bandh.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, the farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

The Punjab unit of the SKM will hold a meeting in Jalandhar on February 18 to suggest the future course of action. The farmers body expressed gratitude to all transport bodies, organisations of workers, students, youth, women and activists for extending support to the bandh call.

Bus service paralysed in Malwa

Normal life was hit in southwest Punjab districts as all private and the government-run buses remained off the roads since Friday morning in response to the bandh call.

Passengers were seen stranded at various places in the region. Train services remained unaffected.

Private and government schools remained open due to the ongoing final exams of Classes 10 and 12 of the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) and Punjab School Education Board.

Markets closed in Doaba

The bandh call evoked a total response in Doaba region on Friday. Farmers blocked national and state highways at several places in the region, while commercial establishments in Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts remained shut.

In Kapurthala, the national highway was blocked near Phagwara and Dhilwan toll plazas.

The Jalandhar District Bar Association announced no workday and extended support to the farmers.

In Hoshiarpur, the farmer unions and their supporters blocked the main entry points of the city and sat on dharna.

Schools, colleges and markets were open in Ludhiana on Friday, but the bus service was halted on the bandh call. Farmers blocked main roads at different locations in the city.

No response to bandh call in Bathinda

The trading community in Bathinda, the hub of commercial activities in the region, kept all private establishments open.

According to information, markets in other districts of south Malwa, including Mansa, Ferozepur and Moga, remained shut.

But except for chakka jam, there was hardly any impact of the bandh call in Bathinda. Beopar Mandal state president Amit Kapoor said there was strong resentment among shopkeepers, private doctors and others against the unruly behaviour of farm rights’ activists.

Except Pathankot, complete shutdown in Majha

A complete shutdown was observed in Amritsar and its surrounding areas in response to the bandh call.

DCP (city) Pragya Jain said, “No untoward incident was reported during the shutdown. Cops were deployed at all key points and sites of demonstration.” In Amritsar, the educational institutions run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) remained shut as the apex gurdwara body supported the bandh call.

Stopped from approaching the BJP district office at Khanna Samarak in Amritsar, Congress workers scuffled with the police near Hathi Gate.

Batala, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran also witnessed a huge response to the bandh call. Traders of towns near India-Pakistan border also gave good response to the bandh call.

The Bandh call evoked lukewarm response in Pathankot which is a Hindu-dominated district of Punjab and known as the stronghold of the BJP. Almost all shops and other outlets remained open in Pathankot and Sujanpur towns.

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