Farmers' stir in Punjab: Rail traffic disrupted; Chandigarh-Ambala NH blocked
Their demands include a financial package for the flood-hit people, a legal guarantee for MSP for all crops and debt waiver for farmers
Farmers squatted on railway tracks and blocked the Chandigarh-Ambala-Delhi national highway in Punjab on Friday (September 29), demanding compensation for crop damage in the recent floods, a legal guarantee on MSP and a sweeping debt waiver.
Farmers taking part in the three-day ‘rail roko’ squatted on the Amritsar-Delhi railway track in Devidas Pura, while members of the Azad Kisan Committee, Doaba, sat on a dharna at the local railway station in Hoshiarpur.
Protest at 17 sites
Railway officials said while some trains were cancelled, routes of several trains have been diverted. Some trains are being short terminated due to the agitation. The stir is underway at 17 places in Punjab, including Moga, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, Tarn Taran, Sangrur, Patiala, Ferozepur, Bathinda and Amritsar.
A group of farmers owing allegiance to Bharatiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur) squatted on the Chandigarh-Ambala-Delhi national highway near Lalru in Punjab. The farmers also parked their tractors alongside the highway. A Punjab Police official said both sides of the highway have been blocked and traffic diverted through alternative routes.
Harpal Singh Sangha, state chief of the Azad Kisan Committee, Doaba, said the agitation will continue till Saturday. If the demands are not met by that time, the next course of action will be decided, he said.
The stir has left many rail passengers stranded in Punjab and Haryana. “The matter is between the Centre and the farmers. Why should passengers face harassment? Since yesterday (Thursday), we have been waiting at the railway station but there is no surety when our train will arrive,” said an elderly passenger waiting to travel to Patna at the Ludhiana railway station.
Late on Thursday, hundreds of railway passengers travelling to various destinations, including Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, were stranded at the Ambala Cantonment station in Haryana as rail movement was hit in Punjab.
A large number of passengers, many of them pilgrims, were also stranded at Jammu and Katra railway stations of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday as seven trains were cancelled and 13 diverted due to the agitation. The stir has directly affected the Ambala and the Firozpur railway divisions, a railway official said.
Firm on demands
Several farmer groups, including the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee; BKU (Krantikari); BKU (Ekta Azaad); Azaad Kisan Committee, Doaba; BKU (Behramke); BKU (Shaheed Bhagat Singh) and BKU (Chottu Ram), are participating in the protest. Their demands include a financial package for the flood-affected people in north India, a legal guarantee for MSP for all crops and a debt waiver for farmers.
The farmers want a Rs 50,000-crore flood relief package for north Indian states and MSP according to the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report, farmer leader Gurbachan Singh said in Amritsar on Thursday.
He demanded waiver of the entire debt of farmers and labourers, and Rs 10 lakh and a government job in compensation to the kin of each farmer who died during the agitation against the now-repealed three farm laws.
(With agency inputs)