Western Uttar Pradesh saw a mixed response to the Bharat Bandh called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on Monday. While the markets in the region remained largely open, the national and State highways saw blockades by farmer unions through the day, leading to traffic jams.
The bandh was led by Bharatiya Kisan Union in the region and was supported by all the major political parties.
Police sources in Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar said the traffic pressure increased in the morning because it was a working day; the Delhi Police had placed barricades and were checking vehicles coming from the neighbouring States for any farmer movement into the Capital. As the day progressed, the traffic situation eased.
Apart from a skirmish with the Gautam Budhh Nagar police when farmers tried to remove barricades outsides the Noida Authority’s office, the protest remained largely peaceful.
Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson, BKU thanked farmers for turning out in large numbers and keeping the protests peaceful.
“The bandh proved a success. Those who described it as a movement limited to three States would have seen that it is a countrywide movement. Not only political parties, but we also got support from trade and labour unions and merchant associations as well,” he said.
He apologised to those who were affected by the jams through the day, particularly in the NCR. “I request them to consider that they dedicated a day to the cause of farmers who are on the road for the last 10 months,” said the farmer leader, who was seen contributing to the community kitchen at the Ghazipur border in the morning. “It has been my practice through the movement. I love to peel and chop potatoes,” he said.
Describing the Uttar Pradesh government’s hike in the sugarcane purchase price by ₹25 a quintal as a “cruel joke” on the farmers, Mr Tikait said soon BKU would launch a protest against the State government. “If the government thinks that it could tire us out or distract a section by this cosmetic increase in sugarcane prices before the elections, it is mistaken. We stand by our motto that as long as farmer laws are not repealed, we will not return home.”
In a release, BKU reminded that the advisory committee on sugarcane prices calculate the input cost of sugarcane production as ₹350 per quintal. BJP MP Varun Gandhi wrote a letter to the government, appealing that price to be raised to ₹400 per quintal.
“The move has proved yet again that this is a government of the corporates and we will do everything to uproot this insensitive government,” said Mr. Tikait.