Rail, road traffic hit as farmers stage protests in Punjab, Haryana

Chandigarh: Farmers on Sunday squatted on railway tracks and blocked roads at several places in Punjab and Haryana as part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s nationwide protest against the Centre “reneging on its promises” made when the agitation against now-repealed farm laws was withdrawn last year.

In Punjab, the Ferozepur division of Indian Railways had to cancel or reschedule several trains because of the four-hour agitation. As a result, scores of passengers were forced to wait at various railway stations for hours.

According to railway officials, Amritsar-Pathankot, Amritsar-Qadian, Pathankot-Verka were among five trains which were cancelled while eight trains, including Amritsar-Jaynagar, Amritsar-Sealdah, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-New Delhi, Amritsar-New Delhi and Amritsar-Ajmer Express were rescheduled.

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Two trains — Bathinda-Fazilka and Fazilka-Bathinda — were short terminated, they said.

I, along with my wife, came here for treatment. We had to return to Jammu today. Our train, which was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 am, got delayed for several hours, said a Jammu-based man at Jalandhar railway station.

A woman from Jandiala was to go to Jammu to pay obeisance at the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine but her train also got delayed due to the farmers’ agitation. We have been waiting for the train for hours, said the woman.

Many trains were stopped and roads were blocked at several places from 11 am till 3 pm.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian, participating in the protest at Phillaur railway station, said the farmers were holding the protest on the call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ unions.

Farmers alleged that they were forced to squat on rail tracks as the Centre was “not listening to their demands”.

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said their members staged dharnas at eight toll plazas in six districts and 10 highways, including Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway at Mullanpur and squatted at rail tracks at Bathinda, Budhlada, Malerkotla and Patti.

In neighbouring Haryana, farmers held protests at many places, including Hisar, Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh, Tohana, Sonipat and Karnal. They also burnt effigies of the Central government and raised slogans, accusing the BJP-led dispensation of “going back on its promises .

In Hisar, protesting farmers held demonstrations at five toll plazas and burnt effigies of the central government. The farmers, who were protesting at Badopatti toll, said that they had a minor scuffle with police as they were preparing to burn the Centre’s effigy.

Bharatiya Kisan Sabha leader Shamsher Nambardar alleged that the Centre has gone back on most promises made to the farmers when the protest against the now-repealed farm laws was withdrawn.

In Sonipat, farmers took out a protest march and burnt a Centre’s effigy. They demanded that farmers be given legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP) of crops.

In Karnal too, farmers held a protest at a toll plaza.

Many protesting farmers in Haryana said that earlier it was decided to organise a chakka jam (road blockade), but the plan was changed view of students appearing in competitive examinations and also the Teej festival.

The demands of the farmers include a legal guarantee for the MSP and justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, said BKU (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal.

Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri in a violence during protests on October 3 last year. Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra is an accused in the case. Farmers are demanding the sacking of the Union minister.

When asked about the panel on MSP formed by the Centre recently, Lakhowal said the members of the committee were in favour of the now-repealed farm laws.

The farmers’ demands also include the withdrawal of cases registered during the anti-farm laws protests last year, compensation to the families of those killed during the stir and rollback of the Agnipath military recruitment scheme.

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