The ‘Rail Roko’ protest by 17 farmers’ unions was nipped in the bud by the police on Monday, who kept on their toes throughout the day.
Deployed in every nook and corner of the city, the police thwarted the union members from disrupting rail movement.
As part of the protest, the agitating farmers aimed to block rail movement at important railway crossings from noon to 4PM.
However, a large number of security personnel stood guard outside railway stations and along roads, leading to manned and unmanned railway level crossings, in the city.
The protest also suffered a major blow as a majority of the frontline leaders of various unions went into hiding to evade arrest.
In the absence of their leaders, the union members could not organise themselves for the agitation. However, the protesting farmers made their voices heard at Amritsar and Barnala.
In Amritsar, a handful of farmers, who had managed to sneak into the Golden Temple complex at night, decided to proceed towards the railway station in the morning.
However, the police acted swiftly and foiled their march at the Dharam Singh Market chowk. A few farmers were also taken into custody. A group of protesters were also stopped outside the City Kotwali police station, where they entered into a scuffle with the police.
After a heated exchange of words and blows, the agitating farmers staged a dharna till 4 PM while raising slogans against the government.
A scuffle between the police and farmers also reportedly broke out at Barnala.
President of the Border Area Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Rattan Singh Randhawa, said, “Over 250 farmers have been taken into custody over the last two days.”
He said another 50-odd farmers had been picked up by the police on Monday when they tried to hold a demonstration.
The protest call was given jointly by 17 farmers’ unions including the Kisan Sangharsh Committee of Satnam Singh Pannu, Jamhuri Kisan Union of Dr Satnam Singh Ajnala, Border Area Kisan Sangharsh Committee of Rattan Singh Randhawa, Kirti Kisan Union and the Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Though the union members were not successful in disrupting rail traffic, Randhawa said, “We will break the ‘unholy nexus’ between the ‘arhtiyas’, traders and the procurement agencies.”
“Due to this nexus, farmers are not being given the MSP on the pretext that their stock was discoloured and its moisture content was above the permissible limit of 17%,” he added.
Union leader Satnam Singh Pannu alleged that procurement agencies did not purchase stock directly from the farmers.
He said the stock was routed through the commission agents to the agencies at the MSP fixed by the government, thereby causing losses to the farmer.
The farmers have launched a scathing attack on the government against its failure to protect their interests.