Shutdown against farm laws disrupts life in northern India


Move successful in Punjab and Haryana states

NEW DELHI (AA) – A call by farmers for a shutdown across India received a mixed response Monday as markets remained open in the capital New Delhi and business activities remained largely unaffected.

But border areas witnessed massive traffic snarls due to road blockades by protesters and security checks by police. The shutdown was successful in Punjab and Haryana states.

More than 40 farmers’ organizations protesting against the government’s three new farm laws called a shutdown Monday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It was a successful strike, and we will decide about the future strategy after consultations,” said Rakesh Tikait, leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers Union), while speaking to reporters.

Earlier, Tikait said the striking farmers will not return home unless the farm laws are repealed.

“We will continue our struggle until the last breath. Our government just wants to see the farmers leave their profession and hand over their lands to corporate groups,” Balbir Raj, a farmer from the northern state of Punjab, told Anadolu Agency.

He said they will not allow this to happen.

“India is a country of farmers, and the government cannot force us to accept anything they have decided,” a farmer from the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, Surendra Bhati, told Anadolu Agency.

“We will lose everything if we follow the diktat of the government,” he added.

A spokesperson for Northern Railways said farmers blocked railway tracks in the Delhi, Ambala and Ferozpur divisions. Due to this, about 25 trains were affected.

Effect of shutdown seen in Punjab, Haryana

In the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, farmers blocked highways and roads and sat on railway tracks in many places, affecting normal life.

Punjab remained almost under a complete shutdown, during which transport services remained suspended and shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in most places. Protesting farmers in Haryana blocked many national highways.

Nearly all trade unions in the southern state of Kerala supported the shutdown, and public transport services were affected in the state. People had to use private vehicles. The strike was supported by the ruling Left Democratic Front and the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front. Its effects were also seen in West Bengal, where the Left Front supported the call for a strike.

Many opposition parties support move

The governments of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states like Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Punjab, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have also given their support to the strike. Apart from this, the Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), left parties and Swaraj India supported the strike.

Farmers from different parts of the country, especially Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s borders since November last year.

They are demanding the repeal of three agricultural laws of the government.

Farmers fear that this will end the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system — the minimum or guaranteed price at which the government purchases certain major crops like wheat, paddy and soybeans from them.

However, the government is touting these laws as major agricultural reforms.

While several rounds of talks with the government have fallen through, farmer leaders insist on the total repeal of the laws. The movement, one of the biggest challenges Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced since coming to power in 2014, has also attracted international support.


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