Traffic stalled for three hours along arteries in the heartland of the farmer agitation on Saturday, but farm groups enforcing the chakka jam across Punjab and Haryana ensured there were no palpitations over law and order at any of the protest sites.
As slogans against the new farm laws coursed through highways choked with sedentary traffic, four months of agitation in Punjab and Haryana and around two-and-a-half months on the Delhi borders appeared to find direction again after losing its way in the mess of the Republic Day tractor parade. Members of farm outfits squatted on almost every NH passing through Punjab. Only ambulances and school buses got right of way.
Sources pegged the number of protest locations in Punjab alone at around 350. BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) put up road blockades at 33 places across 14 districts. Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar thanked the farmers along with the civil and police administration for ensuring that the protest passed off peacefully. In Rohtak, commuters stranded in the three-hour highway standstill were given sweets, snacks and tea at various protest sites.
In Rajasthan, former deputy CM Sachin Pilot’s kisan caravan from Dausa reached Bharatpur in time for a rally on the sidelines of the chakka jam. The Delhi-Jaipur highway was completely blocked from 11am.
Farm outfits in Maharashtra brought highway traffic to a halt in parts of Kolhapur, Nashik and Aurangabad. In MP, BKU enforced chakka jam at several places. The state general secretary of BKU was untraceable till late in the night.
The Chhattisgarh Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh enforced the chakka jam in 24 of the state’s 29 districts. Bengal minister Swapan Debnath was heckled by Left activists after his car was caught in the protest at Galsi in East Burdwan. Down south, thousands of farmers enforced the chakka jam in Karnataka, including within Bengaluru. Several protesters, including farmer leaders Kuruburu Shanthakumar, Badagalpura Nagendra and pro-Kannada leader Vatal Nagaraj, were detained for some time.