Farmer bodies ended their six-day-long ‘rail roko’ agitation on Tuesday, citing inconvenience caused to the common man, but decided to continue their stir against the Punjab government as their main demands had not been accepted.
Farmer leaders announced to gherao (picket) residences and cavalcades of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, other Akali ministers and MLAs from October 23.
On Monday night, a meeting of representatives of 12 farmer unions with the CM had remained inconclusive. The key demands, including the payment of Rs 40,000 per acre for cotton crop loss to cultivators and Rs 20,000 per acre to labourers, besides the procurement of basmati 1121 at the rate of Rs 5,000 per quintal, had not found favour with the state government.
The decision to discontinue ‘rail roko’ was taken after a meeting of farmer leaders at Kisan Bhawan, Chandigarh, that ended around 2am on Tuesday.
Farmers have also decided to disrupt government functions, besides restricting the entry of Akali leaders in their respective villages across the state.
Justifying the decision to end the rail blockade, Buta Singh Burjgill of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU, Dakaunda) said: “It is a revolution which is not going to end soon. Therefore, we have to take some harsh decisions to keep the fight alive.” He added that farmers had been getting the support of the common man so far, but if they had continued with the ‘rail roko’ for a few more days, the protest could have backfired.
Sukhdev Singh Kokri, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said if their demands were not fulfilled in the near future, their plan to disrupt government functions could extend till the 2017 assembly elections.
“Such protests are even more embarrassing for the Punjab government than the rail blockade,” Kokri said.
Amritsar-Delhi rail route cleared
The Amritsar-New Delhi rail route was cleared on Tuesday after protesting farmers lifted the blockade around 2pm near Muchhal, 28 km from here.
Talking to HT, farmer leader Rattan Singh Randhawa said, “We have lifted the blockade in public interest, but our agitation will continue. We will stage protests against Punjab ministers.”
Randhawa added that the farmers’ demands were genuine and it was unfortunate that the government was not fulfilling them. HTC
Monday, 8.30pm: Meeting of representatives of 12 farmer unions with Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal ends inconclusively at Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh
Tuesday, 2am: Over five-hour-long meeting of farmer leaders ends at Kisan Bhawan, Chandigarh; it is decided to end the ‘rail roko’ agitation
12.45pm: Farmer leaders announce that the rail blockade is over; protests against Akali ministers to start on Oct 23
2pm: Farmers lift the blockade in Bathinda, Amritsar, Moga and Mansa districts