Angry over the tardy wheat procurement process, farmers on Monday blocked rail traffic on the Amritsar-New Delhi line near Jandiala, 20 km from here.
Protesting under the banner of Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC), around 500 farmers and farm labourers held a sit-in on the rail track at 12:45pm and said that the dharna would continue for the next 48 hours as the government had failed to address farmers’ issues in the state.
Farmers seek crop insurance
The protesters raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and held them responsible for the farmers’ woes. The agitating farmers also demanded a compensation of Rs 35,000 per acre for damage to crops due to unseasonal rain and hailstorm, besides crop insurance. They said the government should provide job to a family member of a farmer who commits suicide and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
A large number of policemen led by Amritsar (rural) senior superintendent of police Jasdeep Singh reached the spot but remained a mute spectator. Talks between the authorities and the farmers also remained inconclusive.
Procurement fails to pick up
Justifying their protest, Kisan Sangharsh Committee senior vice-president Sarwan Singh Pandher said: “We had informed the government that we will block the rail traffic if it fails to address our problems. But the government agencies failed to purchase wheat in a majority mandis across the state. We have decided to block the rail traffic for 48 hours, but if the government fails to address our demands, we will extend the blockade.”
Pandher said the government should purchase the wheat without imposing the conditions of discolouration and moisture content.
“We also demand a compensation of Rs 35,000 per acre to farmers who have suffered losses due to inclement weather. We also oppose the Union government’s proposed move involve corporate houses in wheat purchase.”
Meanwhile, the protesting farmers had made arrangements for drinking water and also cooked food on the rail track.
The Amritsar-New Delhi Flying Mail could not move beyond Jandiala due to farmers’ protest. However, the Swarna Shatabdi coming from New Delhi was stopped at the Beas railway station and the Shan-e-Punjab coming from New Delhi was also halted midway.