The Hindu (Mumbai)

SKM’s nationwide shutdown call evokes mixed response

Strike a success, says Morcha and trade unions, even as farmers continue to camp on interState boundaries on day four of the protest; Centre and farmers to hold next round of talks tomorrow


The nationwide shutdown call given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) evoked mixed response in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh on Friday.

The ‘Grameen Bharat bandh’ call was given by the SKM to press the Central government to accept the farmers’ demands, including a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP).

Normal life was disrupted in Punjab owing to the bandh. Shops and commercial establishm­ents were seen completely or partially closed in most of the rural parts of the State. In major cities including Patiala and Ludhiana, shops and commercial establishm­ents were open.

Farmers squatted on roads, including national highways in Pathankot, Tarn Taran, Bathinda and Jalandhar, disrupting traffic. As buses stayed off the roads, commuters faced problems in travelling.

In Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, shops and commercial establishm­ents were open in most of the markets. The vehicular traffic was also plying close to normal in the city.

In Haryana, the bandh had a partial impact. Members of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni) staged demonstrat­ions at several toll plazas across the State. In Hisar, the Haryana Roadways services were affected as its employees stayed away from work.

Demonstrat­ions were held against the Centre in parts of Himachal Pradesh including the State capital, Shimla.

The SKM and 10 Central trade unions (CTUs) claimed that the strike was a “big success.”

Separately, the protesting farmers from Punjab, who had been stopped from marching to Delhi, continued to camp at different locations on the interState boundary with Haryana on Friday even as another round of meeting between farmer representa­tives and the Union Ministers is scheduled for February 18.

Tear gas shelling on

On the fourth day of protest on Friday, tension was palpable as the Haryana Police again fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesting farmers when they moved towards the barricades at the Shambhu Barrier near Ambala.

Amid the escalating tension, the Haryana Police released video clips, showing several protesters throwing stones and purportedl­y attempting to provoke the security personnel at the Shambhu Barrier near Ambala. In its post on X, the Haryana Police said violence can’t be allowed under the guise of a farmers’ movement and urged the protesters not to disrupt law and order, and to protest peacefully. The police alleged that despite their assurance of a peaceful protest, the protesters were creating a ruckus.

Farmer leaders, meanwhile said that they were adhering to peace, and it was the Haryana security personnel who were using force against protesters by hurling tear gas shells and firing rubber bullets.

‘Positive discussion­s’

Amid the continuing protest, the Union Ministers and farmer leaders said they held “positive” discussion­s in the meeting that concluded on the intervenin­g night of ThursdayFr­iday. This was the third meeting between the farmer leaders and the Centre, after the first two meetings remained inconclusi­ve.

After the meeting, which discussed the farmers’ demands, including giving a legal guarantee to the minimum support price, Union Minister Arjun Munda said the meeting was held in a very cordial manner in which positive deliberati­ons took place. “Together, we will find a solution peacefully,” he said.

 ?? ANI ?? Farmers blocking the Chandigarh highway in Patiala during the Grameen Bharat bandh on Friday.
ANI Farmers blocking the Chandigarh highway in Patiala during the Grameen Bharat bandh on Friday.

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