Rail roko: Stray protests, but no major impact in Uttar Pradesh
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha had given the call for the nationwide rail roko agitation to demand the dismissal and arrest of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni to ensure justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri case
Barring stray protests at railway tracks at some places, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s six-hour rail roko agitation over Lakhimpur Kheri violence failed to make a significant impact in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. The farmers protested briefly at some places of the state. There was heavy police deployment in and around railway stations, but trains stopped briefly at a few stations, railway officials said.
The farmers’ body had given the call for the nationwide rail roko agitation to demand the dismissal and arrest of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni to ensure justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.
Ashish Mishra, son of Ajay Mishra, was arrested in connection with the case on October 9.
Peace prevailed in Lakhimpur Kheri, the site of the October 3 violence. The railways had suspended train movement in the region, with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) also withdrawing its agitation there.
Elsewhere, groups of farmers staged sit-ins at railways stations and tracks in Meerut, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Hapur and Bijnor, affecting the plying of over a dozen trains in the region.
Trains were halted in Greater Noida’s Dankaur station by the protesters, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) media in-charge Dharmendra Malik said. In Ghaziabad’s Modinagar, they agitated in front of a goods train which had already reached its destination.
In Muzaffarnagar, BKU workers halted the Amritsar-Delhi and the Jalandhar Express trains by staging a dharna on rail tracks.
The BKU workers also staged a token demonstration at the Raya station in Mathura, officials said, adding that they later vacated the railway tracks.
Braving heavy rain, farmers blocked the movement of trains on the Lucknow-Bijnor-Najibabad route at the Maujpur junction near Najibabad, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) youth wing’s former state president Digamber Singh said.
“It affected the plying of the Chandigarh Express and other trains,” he said, adding that the six-hour blockade continued till 4pm.
Singh also said the farmers’ dharna (sit-in) on railway tracks and platforms in Hapur, Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur disrupted the movement of trains on the Delhi-Saharanpur and Dehradun routes.
In Meerut, the protesting farmers squatted on tracks at Kankerlhera, Sakauti and Partapur. Former BKU district president Manoj Tyagi claimed that protest affected the plying of trains on the Delhi-Punjab route.
Heavy force, including Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel, were deployed at railways stations and tracks to ensure that protest remained peaceful.
Additional director general of police (Meerut zone) Rajeev Sabbharwal said force was deployed at different locations.
“No confrontation occurred anywhere and the protest remained peaceful,” he said.
The protest caused inconvenience to some passengers who faced a delay in reaching their destinations.
In Lakhimpur Kheri, Amandeep Singh Sandhu, BKU (Tikait) district president, said, “In view of the prevailing situation in Kheri, the SKM had cancelled the ‘rail roko’ agitation in the district”.
“Also, the untimely rains and heavy winds had hit the paddy crops in the district and farmers are busy managing the crop… the railways have also suspended the movement of trains in Kheri, hence, it (agitation) was of no use there,” he said.
Sandhu had circulated his video message to this effect on Sunday evening.
Despite SKM leaders withdrawing the rail roko agitation in Lakhimpur Kheri, elaborate security arrangements were put in place at all railway stations and tracks in the district.
Apart from police officials, Railway Protection Force, railway police and other security personnel remained on alert.
Elsewhere, Shivam Sharma, PRO, North Central Railway (NCR) said farmers stopped the Gomti Express for two to three minutes at the Khurja railway station. The protesters, however, left after being persuaded by the police.
In Jhansi, the farmers demonstrated for around 10 minutes at the Dabra station and between Gohad and Malanpur stations. They later left after being asked by the police, he said.
Similarly, at two places between Mathura-Palwal of Agra division, the farmers demonstrated at the railway gate and also near the Rundhi station.
Sharma said there was no loss of railway property.
“In Lucknow, police were deployed in large numbers at Utrathia and Alamnagar railway stations. The security personnel prevented the farmers from entering the stations,” Lucknow commissioner of police D K Thakur said.
He said elaborate security arrangements were made outside all railway stations of the state capital, and farmers were stopped before reaching the stations.
Kanpur commissioner of police Aseem Arun said there was no impact of the farmers’ agitation in Kanpur as tight security arrangements were maintained as a precautionary measure.
Eight people, including four farmers, died in the violence on October 3. The four farmers were allegedly knocked down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers. Angry farmers then allegedly lynched some people in the vehicles.
The other dead included two BJP workers and their driver, besides a journalist.
Farmers have claimed that Ashish Mishra was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by him and Ajay Mishra, who say they can produce evidence to prove he was at an event at that time.