NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH, Dec 8 - Life was disrupted in several parts of the country on Tuesday as shops and commercial establishments stayed closed, transport was affected and protesters squatted on key roads and rail tracks in response to a Bharat Bandh called by farmers demanding a repeal of the new agri laws. Emergency services were exempted and banks, too, continued operations as the pan-India shutdown, backed by most opposition parties and trade unions, rolled out noisily but peacefully with its impact felt in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, the epicentre of the snowballing protests, as well as in states such as Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand.
The pandemic appeared to recede into the background as security was stepped up across the country, restive crowds demonstrated in some places and the numbers swelled at Delhi�s border points. Protesters also blocked railway tracks at several places in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. As slogans such as Kisan Ekta Zindabad were heard in protest centrepoints such as Tikri and the agitation picked up pace, so did social media with the hashtag #Aaj_Bharat_Bandh_Hai trending worldwide till late afternoon.
From the Rajasthan capital Jaipur, where mandis� were closed but shops open, there were reports of clashes between workers of the state�s ruling Congress and the BJP.
All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah described the shutdown as a show of strength by the farmers.
�We are standing by our demand that we want a complete repeal of the three laws and will not accept any cosmetic changes. If our demands are not met, we are ready to take our agitation to the next level,� Mollah said.
The protesting farmers fear the new laws will pave the way for eliminating the safety of the Minimum Support Price cushion and do away with �mandis�, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The government maintains the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
Opposition parties are expected to meet Kovind on Wednesday evening to raise their concerns about the three laws. � PTI