As there was no breakthrough in the talks between the farmers and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal during their meeting at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Monday, the rail blockade will continue as farmer leaders are holding another meeting to decide their next course of action.
The farmers were being represented by eight leaders, including Sukhdev Singh Khokhri and Ruldu Singh Mansa. Meanwhile, other than the chief minister, the meeting was being attended by the state chief secretary, the DGP and the additional chief secretary (development).
Farmers across the state have blocked train tracks at several spots in Bathinda and Amritsar with the protest entering its sixth day today. The agitation has resulted in cancellation of more than 330 trains in Ferozepur division and around 150 in Ambala division.
Agitating farmers are demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for loss to their cotton crop due to the whitefly attack besides Rs 4,500 minimum support price (MSP) per quintal for the 1509 basmati variety and Rs 5,000 for the 1121 variety, waiver of debts, additional relief package of Rs 5 lakh to economically weaker families and immediate clearance of cane growers’ dues.
Farmers had earlier stated that they will take a call on whether to extend or end their ‘rail roko’ protest only after the meeting.
Protesters are up in arms against the ‘anti-farmer’ policies of the SAD-BJP government, which has been accused of paying inadequate compensation for the widespread loss to cotton crop due to the whitefly attack in the Malwa belt.
The Akali-BJP government is facing flak from all corners, including political opponents such as the Congress and the AAP, for not being able to pacify the protesters.