The whole nation is observing Bharat Bandh on Friday primarily protesting against farmer’s laws. Locally, in Visakhapatnam, agitations against the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) have taken the limelight. Various political parties, and union workers, in Visakhapatnam are seen participating in the Bharat Bandh. The protesters are demanding officials to revert the agriculture laws and fight against the Centre’s decision to privatise VSP.
As part of the Bharat Bandh, protests began at 6:00 AM at Maddilapalem Junction in Visakhapatnam. The National Highway, crossing VSP, which connects Chennai and Kolkata was also blocked by the protesters and police. The workers of the Steel Plant were also seen actively participating in the protests. Certain corporators, and other district officials, had also joined them. In support of the protesters, APSRTC buses remained off the roads till 1:00 PM on 26 March 2021.
In the wake of the Bharat Bandh, businesses, shops, and educational institutes across the city remained closed, on Friday. It is evident these protesters, more so of Visakhapatnam, are leaving no stone unturned to prevent the privatisation of VSP.
To recall, various trade unions had called for a state-wide bandh in Andhra Pradesh on 5 March 2021. They now expect to create a bigger impact with this opportunity of a nationwide bandh. One main factor they have categorically stressed upon, in all their protests, was the sacrifice, and efforts, of the people who had initially held protests to establish the steel plant in Vizag.
Earlier on 26 February, the Vizag Steel Plant Parirakshana Committee held a statewide rasta roko, with a similar agitation, expressing solidarity. In wake of the call, hundreds of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant employees and supporters joined the said agitation.