‘Rail roko’ call: Farmers assemble near rail tracks in Punjab, Haryana

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Chandigarh: Farmers on Thursday gathered near railway tracks at many places in Punjab and Haryana for 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.

Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) members will block railway tracks at 22 places, including at Nabha, Mansa, Barnala, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Jalandhar and Tarn Taran, in Punjab, the organisation’s general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan 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.

Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division, G M Singh said that no train has been cancelled in view of the ‘rail roko’ agitation.

In Bhiwani district of Haryana, tracks will be blocked at four places, including at Siwani and Loharu, a farmer leader from the district said.

In Ambala, farmers gathered near railway tracks at Shahpur village, about two kilometres from the Ambala Cantt railway station.

Four trains are scheduled to pass through Ambala between 12 pm and 4 pm, railway officials said.

Bhartiya Kisan Union leader from Ambala Gulab Singh Manakpur said the protest will be peaceful.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at the Delhi 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.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.





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