Farmers’ march to Delhi continues amidst talks and Bharat Bandh

The decision to press on was made following the third meeting held late last night, just hours before their nationwide strike on Friday.

| Updated: 16 February, 2024 4:38 pm IST
Bharat Bandh observed today due to Farmers' protest

NEW DELHI: Protesting farmers, engaged in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, remain steadfast in their journey to the capital despite ongoing discussions with the government. The decision to press on was made following the third meeting held late last night, just hours before their nationwide strike on Friday.

Authorities in Noida and other parts of Gautam Buddh Nagar district have imposed a ban on unauthorised gatherings in anticipation of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and Central Trade Unions. These groups, though not part of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, share common demands with the protesting farmers.

The call for the Bharat Bandh urges farmers to suspend all agricultural activities between 6 am and 4 pm, emphasising road blockades across the country. Meanwhile, leaders of nine Central Trade Unions will jointly protest at Jantar Mantar, presenting 21 demands, including the guarantee of a minimum support price (MSP) for crops, minimum pension, and minimum wage.

ALSO READ: Farmers’ protest causes traffic chaos on Delhi-Noida-Ghaziabad highways

Haryana Roadways employees have joined the bandh, ensuring toll booths remain free for three hours during the strike. Despite the nationwide disruption, most offices and banks are expected to remain open.

The standoff between farmers and the police at the Punjab-Haryana border persists as the farmers assert their intent to march to Delhi. Their demands include a law on MSP, the waiver of farm laws, and a resolution to other agricultural issues. The confrontation escalated during the third round of talks in Chandigarh, where tear gas and water cannons were employed.

Union Ministers Arjun Munda and Piyush Goyal, along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, participated in the meeting. Arjun Munda conveyed that detailed discussions on the issues would continue during the 6 pm meeting on Sunday, with an emphasis on finding viable solutions.

ALSO READ: Delhi’s Red Fort temporarily closed amid farmers’ protest

Bhagwant Mann expressed positivity following the meeting, citing a consensus on several issues. The farmers committed to maintaining peace during their protest, accusing the Haryana government of unwarranted police intervention in Punjab.

Farmers, adamant about continuing their march, highlight ongoing talks with the government. Sarwan Pandher, a farmer leader, emphasized the need for solutions rather than prolonged discussions on issues like MSP and farm loan waiver.

In response to the Bharat Bandh announcement, heavy police deployment has been observed at Sivaya Toll Plaza in Meerut. CEO Daurala Abhishek Patel and tehsildar Rahul are on-site alongside forces from multiple police stations. The toll plaza is heavily guarded, preventing farmers from leaving the area.

As the farmers’ Bharat Bandh unfolds, police forces remain vigilant, ensuring the toll plaza is secured on both sides. Authorities instruct toll management to monitor all camera feeds, ensuring operational cameras in all lanes.

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