Farmers call for 4-hour nationwide 'rail roko' protest, railways step up security
Farm unions have called for a four-hour 'rail roko' demonstration across the country on Thursday as they continue to agitate against three agricultural laws enacted by the Centre in September last year. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of 40 farm unions, has called for a peaceful protest between 12noon and 4pm, expecting to get support for the programme from across the nation.
The railways, meanwhile, have stepped up security to prevent any untoward incident. Additional forces have been deployed across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has deployed 20 additional companies across the four states.
“We appeal to everyone to maintain peace calling for peaceful protests so as not to inconvenience passengers,” a railway ministry spokesperson said.
As farmers prep for the blockade, director general, Railway Protection Force, Arun Kumar said, "I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. We will be liaisoning with district administrations and will have a control room in place," according to news agency PTI.
"We will gather intelligence. States such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and some other areas will be our focus" he said, adding that they want to persuade the protesting farmers to not cause inconvenience to passengers.
“We have a four-hour window and we want it (rail roko) to get over peacefully," Kumar told PTI.
An official, according to PTI, said that no decision has yet been taken on train movement in the backdrop of the rail blockade. "Once we get a better picture of the status of the protests and have identified sensitive spots, we will put in place a plan of action. We have around 80 trains which run through potentially sensitive areas and most of them would have passed through them before 12 pm," the official was quoted as saying.
The SKM, meanwhile, criticized the government’s “attitude” and demanded that a solution to the farmers’ issues be arrived at without any further delay. "It is clear that instead of resolving the ongoing struggle's demands, BJP is trying its best to counter and destroy it...SKM vows that it will intensify the struggle and mobilise more farmers in its support," ANI quoted Darshan Pal of SKM as reading from a release.