Farmers protesting against the Centre’s new agri laws and other issues blocked roads at several places in Punjab and Haryana on Saturday on the call given by the farmers’ unions for a nationwide ‘chakka jam’.
Farmers’ unions had on Monday announced a countrywide ‘chakka jam’ from 12 noon to 3 pm on February 6 when they would block national and state highways in protest against the Internet ban in areas near their agitation sites, harassment allegedly meted out to them by authorities, and other issues.
The police have stepped up security and made all arrangements for traffic diversion, said officials, adding adequate police personnel were deployed in Punjab and Haryana.
Protesting farmers owing allegiance to different farmers’ bodies blocked state and national highways at several places on Saturday, causing inconvenience to commuters.
Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they are holding road blockades at 33 places in 15 districts including Sangrur, Barnala and Bathinda in Punjab.
In the morning, farmers started assembling at their earmarked protest sites for ‘chakka jam’ in both the states.
“Elders and youth have gathered here to participate in chakka jam. It will be peaceful,” said a protester at the Punjab-Haryana border in Shambhu near Ambala.
“We want that the government should repeal these three laws as they are not in the interest of the farming community,” said another protester.
Protesting farmers said emergency vehicles including ambulances and school buses will be allowed during the ‘chakka jam’.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.