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Protesting farmers on Friday blocked some national highways in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha disrupting traffic as part of a countrywide stir over issues concerning the farming community.
Tractors were parked at several places on the highways even as police arrested scores of protesters including a former RSS leader in Madhya Pradesh.
A group of 62 farmers' unions had earlier announced that traffic will be blocked for three hours on all national highways across the country today in protest against the death of five farmers in police firing in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh and failure of the Centre to provide relief to ryots. They also pressed for loan waiver and remunerative prices for farm produce.
Various farmers' outfits under the banner of Navanirman Krushak Sangathan (NKS) observed a two-hour symbolic shutdown across Odisha.
In Madhya Pradesh, farmers under the aegis of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh(RKMS) led by a former RSS leader blocked roads in various districts as part of a bandh called by them in protest against the Mandsaur firing.
RKMS national president Shiv Kumar Sharma, popularly known as "Kakkaji", was arrested along with seven other farmer leaders when he was going to block the Jabalpur-Jaipur national highway near Misrod area on the outskirts of Bhopal, police said.
In Indore, 20 protesters, including farmers and members of some Leftist parties, were arrested under section 151 of the CrPc when they were trying to stop traffic on Link Road at Teen Imli roundabout, Azad Nagar police station in-charge Kanhaiyalal Dangi said.
RKMS' state unit vice president Trilok Gothi said the outfit had given the call for a nationwide bandh today to protest against the Mandsaur incident.
"We want the Centre and state governments to waive loans of farmers. We want satisfactory remuneration for farm produce of farmers," he said, adding that implementation of Swaminathan Commission's report is also a main demand by farmers.
As per reports, road blockade protests were held in various parts of the state.
In Haryana, led by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Gurnam Singh, farmers gathered near Mohra in Ambala and blocked the highway there by parking their tractors.
Apart from Ambala, farmers also held protests at Rohtak, Sonepat, Hisar, Sirsa, Jind, Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri.
Protesting farmers blocked Rohtak-Panipat highway near Ghilor village.
In Fatehabad, BKU, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha and members of Communist Party of India (M) and AAP assembled on the highway and blocked Fatehabad-Delhi road for some time.
The authorities had to divert the traffic at some places.
Gurnam Singh said that the farmers blocked vehicular traffic at various places for three hours in the afternoon.
He said the farmers protested in a peaceful manner and allowed emergency vehicles to pass.
Singh said the farmers are also demanding waiver of loans and implementation of Swaminathan Committee report on payment of the minimum support price (MSP).
Singh also said that on International Yoga Day on June 21, "the farmers will stage protests to attract attention of the entire world towards their plight."
The opposition parties, including Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), have also lent their support to the agitating farmers.
INLD workers burnt the effigy of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan near the mini-secretariat in Panipat, under the elevated flyover which is part of a national highway
Led by former state agriculture minister Jaswinder Sandhu, INLD workers took out a protest march in Karnal.
In view of the farmers' protest, the Haryana police had taken necessary steps to deal with the situation.
Four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been deployed in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Sonepat and Jind.
Led by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Congress organised a 'Kisan Panchayat' in Kurukshetra.
In Rajasthan, farmers blocked Ganganagar-Hanumangarh highway.
Former CPI(M) MLA Pawan Duggal claimed that a large number of farmers took part in the blockade.
In Bhubaneswar, NKS activists staged road blockades in different areas like Chandrasekharpur, Jaydev Vihar and Master Canteen square, burnt tyres and led a 'rail roko' at the railway station.
Several protesters, including NKS advisor and Aama Odisha Party leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, were picked up from Master Canteen area by the police as a preventive measure.
Patnaik said today's stir was held in solidarity with farmers across the country and the agitation would be intensified if the demands are not met.
In western Odisha, farmers under the banner of Paschim Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti (POKSSS) staged road blockades in various districts of the region.
The farmers staged road blockade at Choudhury chowk on the national highway in Sambalpur.
A report from Nabarangpur said farmers blocked NH 26 here and staged a dharna on the highway in front of Bhandargharani Temple for two hours disrupting traffic for some time.
Similar reports of farmers' stir were also received from Puri, Ganjam, Dhenkanal, Balangir, Rayagada and Keonjhar.