Chandigarh, Sep 25, 2020-
Cutting across party lines, the day-long statewide protests by farmers evoked a good response in Punjab and Haryana as normal life was disrupted, but in Chandigarh it was almost normal.
Rail traffic across Punjab was badly hit as farmers, farm labourers, commission agents and activists of political parties squatted on railway lines.
There was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the states.
The activists of several farmer associations were seen asking traders at several places in the Congress-ruled Punjab to keep their shops and business establishments closed to mark the pan-India protest.
Reports of shutdown of shops and other establishments were received from Punjab’s Patiala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and other places.
Sufficient security arrangements were made in both the states to prevent any untoward incident, said a senior police official here.
In a first-of-its-kind show of solidarity, 31 farmer organisations in Punjab announced a joint protest.
Several trains have been suspended since Thursday as farmers began a three-day ‘rail roko’ campaign against the Bills.
The Ferozepur Railway division decided to suspend operation of special trains till September 26 in view of the safety of passengers, a rail official told.
Protests are being held at 125 places in Punjab, said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. All main highways were blocked by farmers.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has appealed to all political parties to rise above “petty considerations” and come on one platform to fight unitedly against the “treacherous” Bills that would destroy the state’s farmers.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union Government has stooped to a new low by bringing these Bills, and that too in a totally undemocratic and unparliamentary manner,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that his government, supported by the Congress state unit, will oppose the Legislations tooth and nail in the interest of not just the farmers and the state but the entire country.
He has appealed to the farmers to strictly maintain law and order, and adhere to all Covid-19 safety protocols.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the BJP-led NDA government, announced a statewide ‘chakka jam’ to mark their protest.
SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal has asked the Punjab Chief Minister to immediately declare the entire state of Punjab a ‘principal market yard’ for agricultural produce so that the Center’s Bills on agricultural marketing do not apply in the state.
“This is the best, the quickest and the most effective way for Punjab to pre-empt the application of the Center’s latest anti-farmer Bills in the state because the Center’s Bills do not and will not apply to ‘principal market yards’ declared by any state government,” he said.
The SAD has been a longstanding ally of the ruling BJP. SAD’s Lok Sabha MP and Sukhbir Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the Union Cabinet on September 17, citing her party’s opposition to the three Bills.
Interestingly, many Punjabi singers have extended their support to the ‘bandh’ call given by farmers.
Popular Punjabi singer and actor Harbhajan Mann in a tweet said he along with several other artists would be participating in the protest.
In Haryana, activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union activists along with sacked physical training instructors showed black flags to Agriculture Minister J.P. Dalal on Thursday in Mudlana village in Sonepat district.
Terming the Farm Bills as a ‘revolutionary step’, Haryana BJP state chief O.P. Dhankar said these would open up multiple options for farmers to sell their produce. (Agency)