The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions, led the 6 am-4 pm protest today against three controversial farm laws. The group had said they will not allow movement on some sections of national highways. Among them, near the national capital was the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, which saw a massive traffic jam as farmers called a nationwide shutdown to protest one year of the contentious farm laws. But the protesters insisted emergency services weren't affected.
On the ground, NDTV saw several such people, some helpless citing emergency reasons, being let go. A man said his father suffered a cardiac arrest and needed to be rushed to the hospital. Another said he had a hospital appointment and had to make it on time. He too was given way.
At 10 am, on the KMP expressway - spanning over 100 km - a portion of which was blocked by protesting farmers, several cars were stuck in traffic. Many said they were unaware about the bandh, and some said they were not aware it would affect KMP Expressway.
Amarjeet, a resident of Sonipat, was traveling towards Gurgaon. He said he was upset that a bandh was called in an unfavourable manner to commuters. "I have a flight to Dubai tomorrow for which I have to take an RT-PCR today and I'm already late for my slot. This is no way to protest by upsetting the common man, who is already very upset," he said.
Ravi, another commuter from Sonipat to Gurgaon, looked helpless when asked for how long he was stuck in traffic because of the agitation. "How will a common man survive and feed his family if he has to face this when he steps out in the outside world?" he said.
Another commuter told news agency ANI that "there will be no outcome. The Prime Minister is doing right in his capacity and farmers are doing this for political gains."
A farmer told NDTV, "Till the time these laws are not repealed nobody will move or go anywhere... We have been doing this for 10 months. We are not fighting for us but for the country."
When the clock struck 4 pm, farmers lifted the 10-hour blockade and cleared the way for regular traffic.
Protesting in western UP's Ghazipur, spokesperson of the BKU, Rakesh Tikait, called the bandh a success.
"Bharat Bandh was a success, and the public supported it. It's okay if public experienced some inconvenience. Let one day be in solidarity with farmers who have been experiencing trouble under the sun and heat for the last 10 months," he said.
Farmers on ground say they will not stop protesting unless their demands of repealing the farms laws are met.