Rail ROKO protest: Farmers blocked tracks in Punjab, Haryana; mixed response

As part of the ‘Rail Stop’ protest against Centre’s farm laws, the protesters sat on the tracks at several places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar rail route. The Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar and Mohali districts was also closed by farmers.

Members of farmer organizations blocked the railway track during the ‘Rail Stop’ demonstration, which Samyak Kisan Morcha (SKM) said was part of their movement against Centre’s farm laws.

Farmers on Thursday staged a ‘rail stop’ protest against Centre’s new agricultural laws, with officials stopping trains at stations as a precaution, sitting on railway tracks at several places in Punjab and Haryana.

The Kisan Kisan Morcha (SKM), a farmers’ organization that is spearheading the protests, announced a nationwide rail blockade last week to call for repeal of its legislators and said that the agitation would be held at 12 noon. It will be from 4 in the evening.

Officials said that in Punjab, protesters sat on the tracks at several places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route. Farmers blocked the Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar and also in Mohali district.

In Haryana, protesters, including women, demonstrated on rail tracks at several places in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Panchkula districts, officials said.

On the Ambala-Delhi railway section, a group of farmers led by the Indian Farmers Union (BKU) leader Gulab Singh from Ambala drove around on a rail track at Shahpur village, about 2 km from Ambala Cantt station.

Singh said, “Until the agricultural laws are repealed, our protest will continue in a peaceful manner.” Officials said that security has been tightened with the deployment of state railway forces personnel and state police forces in Haryana and Punjab.

The Ferozepur division of Northern Railway has decided to stop trains at stations so that passengers will face less inconvenience during the protest against the ‘rail stop’.

Officials said that there could be a delay in the movement of trains due to the rail blockage of farmers. He said that train services would be resumed after the movement ended, following security protocols.

In Haryana, in addition to railway police personnel, Haryana Police has deployed its staff near large number of protest sites and at various railway stations.

Divisional Railway Manager of Ambala Division GM Singh said that no train has been canceled in view of the ‘rail stop’ movement.
Railway officials said four trains were to pass from Ambala between 12 and 4 pm.

The organization’s general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokarikalan said that members of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Urgan) will block railway tracks at 22 places including Nabha, Mansa, Barnala, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Jalandhar and Tarn Taran in Punjab.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the borders of Delhi with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh since late November to demand rollback of the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Rights of Farmers (Protection and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Agricultural Services Act, 2020; And Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Demonstrating farmers have expressed fears that these laws will pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of large corporations.

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