'Bharat Bandh': Farmers protest in India's Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh
Farmers from different parts of India, especially Punjab, Haryana, and the western part of Uttar Pradesh, blocked national highways and railroads today as part of "Bharat Bandh," protesting the three controversial farm laws passed by parliament which they fear would favour big corporations.
The Indian government has denied the allegations levied by farmers and insists the laws, passed a year ago, are beneficial as some of the provisions cut out exploitative middlemen.
Activists of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 unions of farmers, blocked the Delhi-Meerut expressway near Ghazipur of Uttar Pradesh where they have been holding street protests since November last year, affecting the movement of vehicular traffic between Delhi and UP.
During the ten-hour "Bharat Bandh" which began at 6 am local time, national highways, state highways, arterial roads, and railway tracks were blocked in Punjab and Haryana states.
In Punjab, farmers protested at over 350 places. In adjacent Haryana, highways were blocked in 25 places alone in the Jind district.
Trains were cancelled or short-terminated in Delhi, Ambala (Haryana) and Firozpur (Punjab) divisions as protesters sat on railway tracks.
Huge traffic snarls were seen at Delhi's borders with Gurugram and Noida, two satellite cities of the Indian capital, due to the farmers' protests and barricades set up by security personnel to ensure the protesters do not enter Delhi.
During the 10-hour "Bharat Bandh", police enhanced deployment in Haryana and Delhi.
Police officials said patrolling has been intensified, extra personnel was 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.