Commuters suffer as Bandh disrupts traffic on road, rail routes connecting Delhi and other states
New Delhi: Hundreds of people had to spend restless hours in their stranded vehicles as chaos reigned on the busiest roads connecting the national capital and neighbouring states and rail traffic was disrupted during the Bharat Bandh on Monday called by farmer unions against the Centre's three agri laws.
Serpentine queues of vehicles were seen on the Delhi-Gurgaon border while parts of the national capital too witnessed traffic snarls as police closed some key roads and increased checking to prevent any untoward incident during the protests by farmers on the routes.
According to Railway officials, about 25 trains have been affected due to the Bharat Bandh including Delhi-Amritsar Shan-e-Punjab, New Delhi-Moga Express, Old Delhi-Payhajot Express, Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi to Katra, and Amritsar Shatabdi.
"We have our hotel bookings and return train journey tickets. For the entire day, we have been stranded at the railway station. It has upset our entire schedule,” said Pradeep Sharma, who was traveling from Bhopal to Jammu and was stranded at Kurukshetra railway station in Haryana.
The elderly parents of Vaibhav Pandey, who works in a private firm in Delhi, had to come from Gurgaon to his house this morning and were stuck in a traffic jam during the Bandh.
“My parents live in Sector 40 of Gurgaon and it took them 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach south Delhi,” he said.
The traffic on DND, which connects to Uttar Pradesh, was affected. The Ghazipur border was closed for vehicular movement and the whole traffic was diverted to DND and Apsara border for Noida and Ghaziabad respectively till the Bandh ended at around 4 PM.
The Delhi Police increased security checks at its border points which led to the slowing down of traffic and it informed commuters about road closures and traffic snarls on Twitter.
Namit Bansal said his journey time to the office from his Kalkaji home doubled today.
“There was an unusually high number of barricades along the route and a lot of security checks. Traffic coming in from Noida and Faridabad had also merged all through the Outer Ring Road. The traffic was moving at snail's pace,” Bansal said.
Farmers squatted on railway tracks at many places in Punjab and Haryana including at Shahbad near Kurukshetra, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh, Charkhi Dadri, Jind, Hisar, Amritsar, Patiala, Barnala and Lalru near Derabassi. As a result, several trains were held up.
A tourist couple returning to Rajasthan's Udaipur after holidaying in Himachal Pradesh were stranded at Chandigarh railway station for hours as farmers had blocked the rail track at other places affecting train movement.
The couple told reporters that everyone has sympathy with farmers, but the common public should not be inconvenienced.
“We are facing a lot of inconvenience,” said Mahender Singh, who was also part of the tourist group returning to Udaipur from Himachal Pradesh via Chandigarh.
Likewise, a large number of passengers were also stranded at Karnal railway station as farmers were squatting on rail tracks near Shahbad, Kurukshetra.
National and state highways in several districts of Punjab, including Amritsar, Rupnagar, Jalandhar, Pathankot, Sangrur, Mohali, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Bathinda, were blocked by the protesters.
In neighbouring Haryana, the protesters blocked highways in Sirsa, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Hisar, Charkhi Dadri, Karnal, Kaithal, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Panchkula districts.
Many families headed to Jammu with minor children particularly faced a lot of inconvenience.
At Phagwara in Punjab, where two trains were stranded, many passengers said they support the farmers, but common people should not be made to suffer.
"More than 20 locations are being blocked in Delhi, Ambala, and Ferozpur divisions. About 25 trains are affected due to this," a spokesperson for the Northern Railway said.
Autorickshaws and taxis plied normally and shops were open in the national capital.
Inter-state movement of goods was partially affected as trucks were seen standing along blocked roads.
"Goods from Jaipur and Meerut were stuck due to blockades by the farmers and took time to reach Delhi through alternative routes," said the secretary-general of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Pravin Khandelwal.
People coming from Delhi to Jaipur also faced problems as farmers blocked Delhi-Jaipur national highway near Behror in Alwar district.
Ashwani Kumar, a commuter from Delhi said, "I had to travel for a business meeting in Jaipur but due to the protests I had to face traffic jam near Behror. I somehow managed to take an alternative route."
Similar problems were faced by candidates of the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET-2021) who were returning home after appearing in the examination.
"I was returning to Sriganganagar from Jaipur after appearing REET examination. Our bus was stopped by protestors near Sriganganagar. It caused trouble to a lot of students," Abhishek Sharma said.
Sushil Kumar Jain, president of Noida's Sector 18 market association, said the shops in the commercial hub remained open on Tuesday but the footfall was low due to the Bandh call.
Jain lamented that whenever a strike is called in the country, markets have to suffer and hoped a way is found to prevent huge losses to the traders in the future.
“In India, it is not good to call a Bandh of retail market business. The major loss is suffered by the markets due to such events,” said Jain, also the convenor of the NCR unit of CAIT.
All emergency establishments and essential services, including hospitals, medical stores, relief-and-rescue work and people attending to personal emergencies had been exempted during the Bandh period, according to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmer unions that is spearheading the agitation against the farm laws.
At many places in Punjab and Haryana, protesting farmers used their tractor trollies to block the roads. Farmers also staged demonstrations raising slogans against the Union government, demanding the repeal of farm laws.
The government and farmer unions have held 11 rounds of talks so far, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers' protest.
Talks have not resumed following widespread violence during a tractor rally by protesting farmers on January 26.
The three laws -- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 -- were passed by Parliament in September last year.
Farmer groups have alleged the laws will end the 'mandi' and the MSP procurement systems and leave farmers at the mercy of big corporates. The government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced and asserted that these steps will help increase farmers' income. PTI