Farmers block national highway in Jalandhar for 6 hours | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Farmers block national highway in Jalandhar for 6 hours

Commuters faced the heat as thousands of farmers - demanding clearance of dues for sugarcane growers - blocked national highway-1 at Paragpur on the outskirts of the city and also organised a dharna on the track near the Jalandhar Cantonment railway station on Wednesday.

punjab Updated: Sep 03, 2015 22:12 IST
Farmers blocked rail traffic at Dhanowali railway crossing near Jalandhar Cantt hit Amritsar-New Delhi rail traffic. (Pardeep Pandit/HT)
Farmers blocked rail traffic at Dhanowali railway crossing near Jalandhar Cantt hit Amritsar-New Delhi rail traffic. (Pardeep Pandit/HT)

Commuters faced the heat as thousands of farmers - demanding clearance of dues for sugarcane growers - blocked national highway-1 at Paragpur on the outskirts of the city and also organised a dharna on the track near the Jalandhar Cantonment railway station on Wednesday.

The farmers laid siege to the highway at around 9am and the Jalandhar and Kapurthala managed to divert road traffic coming from Amritsar and Jalandhar city.

However, the railway passengers bore the brunt of the protest with farmers blocking the track that joins Jammu-Amritsar-Jalandhar to the other parts of the country at 11 am. This led to more than 15 trains being stuck and unable to reach the Jalandhar Cantonment.
Railway officials said the Shatabdi Express coming from Amritsar remained stranded at Phagwara; Shane-E-Punjab Express had to be temporarily stopped at Phillair; Mumbai-Jammu Tawi Express had to wait at Goraya; Delhi-Pathankot Express at Ludhiana; Duriyan Express at Sadhugarh; Dadar Express at Quila Raipur; Jamnagar Express at Goraya, Mala Express at Ludhiana; Swaraj Express at Suchi Pind; the Nangal Dam Express at Chiherru near Phagwara; Jalandhar-Jaijon Express at Behram; Ludhiana-bound Flying Mail at Suranassi, Malwa Express at Jalandhar Cantonment and Shaheed Express at the Jalandhar railway station.

Passengers got stuck on different tracks and waited for hours to get clearance

on the route. Those travelling short distance were seen travelling through taxis or buses.

"Traffic movement on the track is likely to resume normally from Thursday morning. The evening Shatabdi from Amritsar to Delhi was also delayed by three hours. Many other trains were also delayed," a Jalandhar railway official said.

Farmers cleared the road the rail track only at around 4:30 pm, after they were given a written agreement by state agriculture director Mangal Singh and the cane commissioner in the department Dr Ranjeet Singh and Jalandhar deputy commissioner Jalandhar KK Yadav on the matter. Rail traffic was then restored at 4:50pm after railway authorities granted a track fitness report.

Farmers under the banner of Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee and Pagdi Sambhal Jatta Movement and Jalandhar Potato Growers Progressive (JPGA) have given a charter of demands before the district administration.

These include clearing the entire balance payment for cane farmers of around

Rs 208 crore and that the payment must directly reach the farmers' accounts.

They also demanded lifting of sugarcane produce and reiterated their demand that the sugar mills must start operating from November 15 - 10 days before last year's schedule of November 25.

"Officials also declared that entire sugarcane produce of farmers will be lifted by the millers, even if it is not bound so far," the authorities assured the farmers.

The administration has also decided to cancel FIRs against all 250 farmers who had blocked rail traffic at Mukerian recently.

Govt admits fault

To convince farmers to lift the blockade, officials also felt sorry before the farmers for the woes. "We are really sorry that the farmers had to resort to block traffic to press for their demands. It's a black spot on the function of the government. But we assure that all steps would be taken to ensure that in future such a situation does not arise," said agriculture director while addressing farmers. If private mills fail to clear the dues, we would sell their land in order to pay for the farmers, said the director agriculture.

Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee president Manjeet Singh Rai stated that farmers were satisfied with the written assurance from government officials.

However, questions remained over the role of district administration in handling the call by the farmers to stage this dharna.
"Commuters could have been spared the trouble had the administration put its best foot forward to convince the farmers and withdraw stir in advance. In the afternoon too, the farmer leaders didn't mince words when officials of the state government assured them in writing to meet their demands," said a senior police official involved in convincing farmers to uplift the dharna.


The rush of the farmers during the protest was unprecedented and tents had been laid across the national highway.

DEMANDS

" Farmers under the banner of Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee and Pagdi Sambhal Jatta Movement and Jalandhar Potato Growers Progressive (JPGA) have given a charter of demands before the district administration.

" These include clearing the entire balance payment for cane farmers of around Rs 208 crore and that the payment must directly reach the farmers' accounts.

" They also demanded lifting of sugarcane produce and reiterated their demand that the sugar mills must start operating from November 15 - 10 days before last year's schedule of November 25.

" The administration has also decided to cancel FIRs against all 250 farmers who had blocked rail traffic at Mukerian recently.

15 TRAINS STUCK

Railway passengers bore the brunt of the protest with farmers blocking the track that joins Jammu-Amritsar-Jalandhar to the other parts of the country at 11 am. This led to more than 15 trains being stuck and unable to reach the Jalandhar Cantonment.


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