Bharat Bandh Amid Farmer Protests, Cops Issue Travel Advisory: 10 Points

Farmer groups may block highways and occupy toll plazas.

The “Bharat bandh” – a nationwide shutdown called for by farmers protesting the farm laws – will run from 11 AM to 3 PM, with transport services, offices and shops – particularly those selling fruits and vegetables – in some states and cities likely to be affected. Police in Delhi and Haryana, where large numbers of farmers have set up camp amid police barricades, have issued advisories to re-route traffic where possible or warn commuters of delays. Farmer groups are also expected to block highways and occupy toll plazas, but they have emphasised this will be a “peaceful protest” and emergency services – like ambulances – will not be stopped or delayed.

Here are top the 10 points on this big story:

  1. Bank unions have said they stand in solidarity with the farmers but will not participate in the bandh. They will, however, wear black badges while on duty and stage protests after or before working hours. Almost all commercial transport and truck unions, though, will participate, meaning supply of dairy products, fruits and vegetables will be impacted.

  2. Delhi and Haryana Police have issued separate travel and traffic advisories for people looking to enter or leave the national capital region, which is likely to bear the brunt of the bandh after farmers camped at junctions along the UP and Haryana borders warning they will cut off road access to the city. Traffic on National Highways 9, 19, 24, 44 and 48 will be disrupted, with either sections or the whole of these roads closed.

  3. Within Delhi, milk products, fruits and vegetables will likely be in short supply. Mandis (wholesale markets) at Ghazipur, Okhla and Narela could be affected, Adil Ahmed Khan, the chairman of Azadpur Mandi – Asia’s largest wholesale market – said. Commuters could also face problems since some taxi unions, including those based with app-based aggregators, have backed the bandh. Delhi Metro services, for now, will continue.

  4. Congress-ruled Punjab – whose farmers have led the protests – will likely see a complete shutdown. Almost all trade unions have extended their support. MLAs of the ruling party and the opposition – both Akali Dal and AAP – will stage sit-ins in their constituencies. In Chandigarh some market associations have backed the bandh, meaning markets and shops could be shut. Local police have issued travel and traffic advisories as well.

  5. In Mumbai, as in Delhi, supply of fruits and vegetables will be affected. This is due to the Vashi mandi being closed. Cabs, autos and buses will run but commercial trucks will stay off the roads. Retail traders’ associations have not backed the bandh but individual shops may choose to do so, they said. Hotels and restaurants are also expected to remain open. Mumbai Police will increase patrolling to ensure no “untoward incident” takes place.

  6. Tamil Nadu (ruled by the AIADMK, a BJP ally) is not supporting the bandh. The traders’ federation has remained non-commital despite an appeal by the opposition, so shops and supply of fruits and vegetables is unlikely to be affected. Left-affiliated transport unions may be off the streets but this is unlikely to have a major impact. Telangana, however, has backed the bandh, with Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao calling on TRS workers to “actively participate”.

  7. The bandh’s impact on BJP-ruled states is expected to be less severe, although rural areas in Haryana – from where thousands of farmers have joined the protest – could be impacted. Similarly, mandis are expected to be open in Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress is likely to stage protests. UP, which is not supporting the bandh, will keep offices open. Karnataka is also planning a normal day, but farmers have scheduled protests, so traffic disruption is possible.

  8. None of the northeastern states have issued advisories at this time and, apart from the Congress, few political parties have backed the bandh. There may be some impact in Assam or Tripura, where the Congress is more influential and, with Left parties, may organise protests and sit-ins leading to partial disruption.

  9. The ruling BJP launched a counter-attack against the opposition (and the bandh) Monday, accusing them of engineering the protests for political gains. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress, when it was in power, was in favour of privatising the agriculture sector but was now opposing the move to score brownie points with farmers – who represent a hugely powerful voting group.

  10. Thousands of farmers camped out around Delhi, and thousands more across the country, have been protesting since September, demanding the immediate recall of the farm laws. The centre has baulked at rolling back what it says are “historic reforms” and has instead said it will amend the more problematic sections. The farmers, however, are insistent the laws must go. Five rounds of talks have failed to yield a breakthrough. A sixth has been scheduled for Wednesday.

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