Commuters in Punjab continued to face a harrowing time for the third consecutive day on Friday with 51 trains affected in the state because of the ‘Rail Roko’ agitation of farmers’ outfits protesting against SAD-BJP-led state government for their “anti-farmers” policies.
27 trains were cancelled, 24 were short originated, terminated and diverted in the state, railway official said.
The trains that stand cancelled included Chandigarh-Amritsar intercity, Dehradun-Amritsar express, New Delhi-Amritsar express.
Agitating farmers who yesterday extended their two-day protest till October 10 squatted on railway track at different places, forcing railways to cancel or divert several trains.
“We are continuing with our protest against the lackadaisical attitude of the Punjab government towards farmers’ issues,” BKU Ekta (Dakunda) General Secretary, Jagmohan Singh said on Friday.
Protesters have blocked rail traffic at Mansa, Rampura, Shergarh (Bathinda), Pathrala, Dagru (Moga), Lehragaga, Mucchal (Amritsar), Singh said. Because of farmers’ protest, train movement was hit on Ludhiana-Ferozepur, Ludhiana-Amritsar, Fazilka-Ferozepur,
Ferozepur-Bathinda, Ganganagar-Ferozepur sections, railway officials said.However, farmers’ outfits have decided not to block the train service from Abohar to Bikaner which carries cancer patients, Singh said, adding that some farmers have also blocked road traffic at Sangrur and Barnala.
Police have released about 4,000 protesting farmers who were picked up during two-day protest, he added.
Lashing out at ruling SAD, which claims to be champion of farmers’ cause, BKU Ekta (Dakunda) General Secretary said that
farmers had not received any call from the government to discuss the issue.
“From day one, they (SAD) are not interested in talking to farmers. The state government had even arranged a meeting with its senior officers who we have already submitted our demands to, on which no action has been taken so far.”
However, Punjab government has claimed that it has released maximum compensation to cotton growers whose crop was damaged because of pest attack.
SAD had even accused farmers’ outfits of playing politics over the peasants’ issues.Among various demands, farmers in Punjab have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged by whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labour, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety.
Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.
Passengers continued to feel the heat as the ‘rail roko’ initiated by the farmers entered the third day. In a deadlock with the government, hundred of farmers continued the blockade at village Muchhal on the Amritsar-Delhi rail route. Rail traffic was out of gear and only one train Jan Shatabdi departed from Amritsar enroute Tarn Taran.
However, fourteen trains in Northern Railway division of Ferozepur were cancelled following strike by farmers. As per information, trains were running on all routes under Ferozepur railway division except Ferozepur-Ludhiana section and Jalandhar-Amritsar section since morning.
Farmers squatted near railway level crossing on Ferozepur-Ludhiana division in village Dagru. Some farmers also blocked the Jalandhar-Amritsar rail track leading to which a few trains were diverted, short-terminated and short-originated too.
Bathinda also remained disconnected from New Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan on the third consecutive day as all the trains remained off track due to protest of farmers. However, police set up check posts every three kilometers on different roads to stop farmers moving towards railway tracks.
Meanwhile, the protestors continued squatting on Bathinda-Ambala railway track at Rampura town, Bathinda-Bikaner track at village Pathrala and Bathinda-Mansa-Delhi railway track at Shergarh village.
As talks between the state government and agitating farmers failed, the latter decided to extend their rail blockade till October 10.
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.
Bathinda remained disconnected from New Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan on the third consecutive day as all the trains remained off track due to rail roko (blockade) protest of farmers.
However, the police have set up check post at every three kilometers on different road to stop farmers moving towards railway tracks.
Meanwhile, the protestor are squatting on Bathinda-Ambala railway track at Rampura town, Bathinda-Bikaner track at village Pathrala and Bathinda-Mansa-Delhi railway track at Shergarh village.