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Train services halted as farmers squat on tracks for nationwide ‘rail roko’ protest

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: After tractor rally, ‘chakka jam’, protesting farmers on Thursday launched their nationwide “rail roko” protest against the Centre’s contentious farm laws.

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The agitation, which started at 12 in the noon, will continue till 4 pm and will be peaceful, the farmers have said. In view of this mass protest, Train services have been stopped in several areas as part of precautionary measure. While, security has also been tightened in Punjab and Haryana, with the deployment of the government railway police and the state police.

Ghaziabad border near Delhi, which is the epi-centre of the farmers’ protest since November, has also been put under a security blanket.

Thousands of farmers have gathered near rail tracks in parts of Punjab, Haryana Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka for the ”rail roko” protest.

In Haryana, the train stations at Sonipat, Ambala and Jind were completely blocked. Whereas, protesters, many of them women, squatted on the railway Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Panchkula and Fatehabad (Bhattu Kalan) districts.

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In Punjab, protesters sat on tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route, said the officials. Furthermore, demonstrators blocked the Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar and in Mohali district.

However, there was massive uproar in Bengaluru as the police refused to allow farmers to protest. “We are not being allowed by the police to hold rail roko. The police say no permission has been given for this protest. Why should we wait for the police to give permission when it was nationally announced by farm unions,” a farmer leader said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions, had announced the nationwide rail blockade last week to press for its demand to repeal the farm laws.

“Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till the farm laws are repealed,” Bhartiya Kisan Union leader from Ambala Gulab Singh Manakpur was quoted saying by the media.

Over the last weeks, the farmers protesting at the Delhi borders have been heading out to states, alleging it to be a part of their new strategy to spread the protest across the country as the ruling government instead of resolving their issues is more interested in curbing their protest.

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Meanwhile, the 11 talks so far have been proved incompetent to resolve the deadlock over the farm laws as farmers have refused to accept the Centre’s offer of a 18-month freeze on the contentious legislatures while negotiations continue. Whereas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the proposal stands.

The three farm laws that have forced tens of thousands of farmers to stage the protest against BJP-led government are believed to leave the farmers at the mercy of corporates by shrinking their income by doing away with the minimum prices fixed by the government, what farmers are apprehensive of.

On the other hand, the government alleges that the laws are major reforms in the agriculture sector and will help farmers dispense with middlemen and allow them to sell produce anywhere in the country.

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