Thousands of farmers blocked major highways and crucial roads across the State around 170 points on Saturday afternoon as part of a national ‘chakka jam’ call given by Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a coalition of farmers’ unions protesting against the three new farm laws.
Police detained protesters at most places where roads were blocked. In Bengaluru, farmers and Kannada organisations blocked roads at two critical junctions – Yelahanka and Mysore Bank Circle – but were detained minutes later. Vehicular movement in these areas was not affected, said the police.
Farmer leader Kuraburu Shantakumar, who led the road block protest at Yelahanka, said the police detained three groups of farmers who tried to block roads one after the other. “Our only demand is that the Union government withdraw the three farm laws. But today’s protest is also against how the Union government is treating farmers, booking false cases and using brute force of the police against protesters,” he said.
Farmers blocked Bengaluru-Mysuru highway at Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagaram, Ballari Road at Devanahalli and Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru-Chennai highway at Kolar, Bengaluru-Bidar highway at Kalaburagi and Shahpura, and several key junctions on Tumakuru Road and in Belagavi, Davanagere, Raichur and Koppal, among other places. At several roadblock points, farmers came with bullock carts and cattle, and in many places even cooked on roads.
A statement from Samyukta Horata – Karnataka, a coalition of farmer, Dalit and progressive organisations, termed the protests in the State a success. They demanded that the Centre immediately stop harassing protesting farmers at the Delhi borders, and heed their demands and withdraw the three farm laws.
Meanwhile, senior Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj condemned Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa for ‘blindly following the diktat of the Centre’.