Rail Roko: Protesting farmers sit on tracks in Punjab, Haryana; officials stop trains at stations
Chandigarh, Feb 18: Farmers on Thursday sat on railway tracks at many places in Punjab and Haryana as part of the 'rail roko' protest against the Centre's new agri laws, with officials stopping trains at stations as a precautionary measure.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions which is spearheading the protest, last week had announced the nationwide rail blockade to press for its demand to repeal the legislations and had said that the agitation will be from 12 pm to 4 pm.
In Punjab, protesters sat on tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route, officials said. Farmers blocked the Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar and in Mohali district also farmers blocked a rail track, they said. In Haryana, protesting farmers, including women, squatted on rail tracks at many places, including in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Panchkula districts, the officials said.
On the Ambala-Delhi railway section, a group of farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader from Ambala, Gulab Singh, squatted on a rail track at Shahpur village, about 2 kilometres from the Ambala Cantt station. "Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till the farm laws are repealed," Singh said.
Security has been tightened in both Haryana and Punjab with personnel of the government railway police and the state police forces being deployed, officials said. The Ferozepur division of the Northern Railways has decided to halt trains at stations so that passengers face less inconvenience during the 'rail roko' protest.
The officials said that the movement of trains is likely to be delayed because of the farmers' rail blockade. Train services will be resumed after following due security protocols once the agitation is over, they said. In Haryana, besides railway police personnel, the Haryana Police has deployed its staff in large numbers near the protest sites and at various railway stations.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.