Mixed response to bandh in Pune as MVA parties, others take to the streets

The alliance partners of state’s ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government along with several other political parties took to the streets in Pune and raised slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre during a daylong bandh called on Monday to condemn the killing of farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, allegedly by the vehicle owned by the son of a Union minister.

Joint commissioner of the Pune city police Ravindra Shisave said even though there were protests at certain locations, the law and order situation was peaceful in the city. Police force of around 5,000 personnel was deployed at important spots to ensure a peaceful bandh, he added. Protests largely took place in the jurisdictions of the Bundgarden, Hadapsar, Shivajinagar, Vishrambag and Sinhagad Road police stations.

Officials said the bandh received a mixed response as even though shops in Market Yard and Lakshmi Road were closed in the morning hours, most resumed functioning after 4 pm.

Activists of MVA parties – the Congress, the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – handed over their memorandum of demands to Pune district collector.

Sanjog Waghere, president of Pimpri-Chinchwad unit of the NCP, said, “People voluntarily kept their shops and offices shut till late afternoon. PMPML buses also did not ply on the roads. Even several small scale-industries remained shut.”

Other parties that participated in the protest included the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the CPM and the Janta Dal (Secular) along with social organisations such as Shetkari Bachav Kriti Samiti, Hamal Panchayat, Rickshaw Panchayat, Tempo Panchayat and Chhatrapati Shivaji Market Yard Kamgar union. At the rally held near Collector office, they paid homage to those who died in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and jointly read out the preamble of the Indian Constitution.

Addressing the gathering, state Food and Civil Supplies minister Vishwajeet Kadam said everyone should stand by the farmers of the country as they are being “mistreated” by the BJP-led government.

“The BJP-led Union government, through their dictatorship, has made anti-farmer laws. The farmers have been protesting against it but the Prime Minister of the country is not bothered about them. However, the party workers of the BJP and supporters of the son of a Union minister run over the protesting farmers,” said Kadam.

The farmers’ voice is being silenced, he said, adding that the citizens of the country cannot keep quiet when injustice is being done against farmers. “The MVA government had given loan waiver to farmers in the state but the BJP government is trying to destroy the farmers. We need to stand for farmers as the Union government is working only for select industrialists. We should work towards dislodging the BJP government by coming together and fighting against it,” he said.

City NCP chief Prashant Jagtap said that the BJP came to power in the country by making false promises. “They have an agenda to make select industrialists rich and make the poor suffer. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided not to listen to the farmers, and take decisions against them,” he said.

City Congress chief Ramesh Bagwe said that his party members are protesting in a democratic way to save the farmers. “We will continue with the fight for the farmers until they get justice,” he said.

City Shiv Sena chief Sanjay More said the bandh received good response from all section of the society in the city.

Congress leader Mohan Joshi said the PMPML bus service was closed while hotels, restaurants and, shops also participated in the bandh, making it a successful effort to condemn the violence against farmers.

Meanwhile, the city Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit condemned the protest, alleging in a press note that the Opposition parties’ “concern for farmers” is “fake

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