Agitating farmers in Punjab may have earned the wrath of railways, authorities and passengers for disrupting train movement, but their stir has got support from the villagers who are feeding a large number of protesters squatting on rail tracks.
Villagers have set up community kitchens (langar) near protesting points to feed the agitating farmers, among whom are elderly people as well as youth so that they can continue with their stir to press the Punjab government to accept their demands.
“There is no worry for food. People from adjoining villages are giving us food which includes rice, vegetables, chapattis, tea, karah (Halva) and sweets like kheer, jalebis as well. What else do you need,” BKU Etka (Dakunda) general secretary, Jagmohan Singh told PTI today.
Even policemen deputed at some places to maintain law and order are also partaking the ‘langar’ arranged by villagers, said a leader of farmers’ outfit.
“Throughout the day, we are getting food from villagers,” said the BKU Ekta leader.
Protesters have erected tents in the middle of railway tracks at several places and have been squatting on it as part of their ‘Rail Roko’ agitation.
According to Singh, over 15,000 farmers are participating in the agitation.
As nights are becoming colder, protesting farmers in Nabha were given 200 blankets by volunteers of a nearby gurdwara, said Singh.
Protesting farmers continued to block rail traffic at Mansa, Rampura, Shergarh, Pathrala (Bathinda), Dagru (Moga), Mucchal (Amritsar), hitting rail traffic in Ferozepur and Ambala divisions of railways.
Farmers have blamed SAD-BJP led state government for its “apathetic” attitude towards farmers’ genuine grievances.
As many as eight farmers’ organisations including BKU Ekta (Dakunda), BKU Ekta (Ugrahan), BKU (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union, which owe no allegiance to any political outfit, are participating in Rail Roko agitation which began on October 7.
Among various demands, protesters in Punjab have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged in whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per familycompensation for farm labour.
They are also seeking Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety.