Bharat Bandh: After Nationwide Strike, Deadlock Between Farmers And Government Continues
The deadlock between farmers and the central government over the three new agriculture laws continued even after Home Minister Amit Shah met leaders on the eve of a nationwide strike.
“No meeting will be held between the farmers and government tomorrow,” Hannan Mollah, General Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, told reporters after meeting Shah. “All 13 unions at the meeting with Shah demanded a repeal of laws. The government is ready to repeal the laws.”
Mollah said that the government will give in writing amendments that it is willing to make in the three farm laws. The leaders will deliberate on them on Wednesday at the Singhu border, he said. “We want a repeal of laws, there is no middle path.”
The government was scheduled to meet the farmers for another round of talks on Wednesday. Farmers have warned that their demonstrations would intensify if they fail to reach a resolution.
The meeting with Shah came after normal life was hit across multiple states as lakhs of Indians answered the farmers' call for a nationwide strike to oppose the new laws.
The day-long shutdown impacted traffic and movement across parts of the country as people hit the streets in protest. Major wholesale markets in Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were shut while certain highways were blocked in North Indian states.
Protesting farmers blocked key roads and occupied toll plazas during their ‘chakka jam’ between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Besides farmers, a number of fishermen, daily wagers, Adivasis, sand mine workers, share croppers, industrial workers, transport workers and students were also part of various protests and rallies, the pain-India farmers' body All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said. Besides, over 1,000 lawyers' associations at district levels also joined the strike.
Members of a farmers’ organisation in Maharashtra also blocked a passenger train in protest. Truckers also joined the protest and suspended operations on Tuesday with an exemption for essential commodities like milk, vegetables and fruits.
AIKSCC called the strike a success but asserted that agitation against the Modi administration would continue until the "black laws" are repealed.
Over 50 Lakh Participated In National Strike, Says Farmers' Body
The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee congratulated the people for a "successful" nationwide strike while reasserting its demand to the government for repealing the new farm laws.
"People have rejected this logic of the model of corporate-profit driven economy," AIKSCC said in a media statement on Tuesday evening. More than 90% of public life came to a standstill in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal and the strike was observed widely in a total of 22 states, the union claimed.
AIKSCC is a pan-India umbrella organisation comprising over 250 farmers' organisations across India.
"Those who rallied included fishermen, adivasis, stone quarry workers, sand mine workers, daily wagers, share croppers, tenant farmers and a large spectrum of industrial workers, tempo and other transport workers, students and intellectuals," it said.
AIKSCC asserted that farmers are determined to continue their agitation till the new laws are repealed by the Modi administration.
NCP Backs Farmers In Maharashtra
Leaders and workers of the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra, led by the party's state unit president, Jayant Patil, came out in support of farmers who observed a Bharat Bandh on Tuesday to demand scrapping of the Centres new agricultural laws.
Patil, who is also Maharashtra's water resources minister, wore black ribbon to express solidarity with the agitating cultivators.
Speaking to reporters, Patil said, I am sporting black ribbon today to extend support to the farmers."
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik, who is also a minister, led a protest of party workers in suburban Chembur.
Social Media Abuzz With Messages Of Solidarity
Social media was abuzz on Tuesday with messages of solidarity with the agitating farmers on 'Bharat Bandh' day as netizens made ploughs, tractors, crops and 'Kisan' trend on Twitter in support of the protesters' demands.
As the agitation picked up in the morning, the hashtag #Aaj_Bharat_Bandh_Hai was trending till late afternoon.
Other hashtags widely used by the netizens were #TractorToTwitter, #IStandWithFarmers, #Kisan, #FarmersProtest and #NoFarmersNoFood.
Many users also shared videos of deserted markets in cities in Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states to show the impact of the stir.
Images of ploughs locking a door drawn in the shape of India's map and tractors triumphing over odds were widely shared to convey the idea of bandh and farmers' struggle.
Strike Intensifies Against Farm Laws
Tens of thousands of farmers across India took to the streets Tuesday during a nationwide strike demanding the scrapping of new agricultural laws, intensifying an almost fortnight long standoff with the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Offices Shut, Roads Deserted, Markets Closed In Odisha
Normal life was affected in Odisha on Tuesday as Congress and Left supporters blocked roads and railway tracks along with trade unionists to enforce the nationwide shutdown.
Roads wore a deserted look as vehicular movement came to a halt with the supporters of the 'Bharat Bandh' blocking highways and major roads, and staging demonstrations.
Train services were also affected as activists of farmers' organisations, trade unions and political parties held sit-ins on railway tracks in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Balasore.
In the state capital, movement of vehicles was disrupted as the bandh supporters blocked roads by burning tyres at different places, including Master Canteen Square and Jaydev Vihar. They also picketed on the tracks at Bhubaneswar railway station.
While a large number of passengers were seen stranded at Baramunda bus terminus in Bhubaneswar, many trucks and buses were stranded on the highway near Jaydev Square. The movements of auto-rickshaws and taxis were also hit.
Vehicular movement was also hit in Cuttack, Balasore, Bhadrak, Sundargarh, Bhawanipatna, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda and Puri.
Activists of Nabanirman Krushak Sanghathan staged demonstrations in Jagatsinghpur and Hansapal near Bhubaneswar.
While essential services were kept out of the purview of the shutdown, markets, shopping malls and petrol pumps remained shut in most places.
The shutdown was largely peaceful and no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state, a senior police official said.
The Odisha Public Service Commission postponed the State Civil Services, 2019 GS Paper I & II main exam, which was scheduled to be held during the day, to January 2.