Farmers’ protests: 4-hour nationwide ‘rail roko’ tomorrow | Key points
Farmers protesting against the three contentious central farm laws will hold a four-hour ‘rail roko’ agitation on Thursday to further pressurise the central government to repeal the three ‘black laws.’ The two sides have held 11 rounds of talks thus far, the last of which took place on January 22. No further discussion has taken place in the wake of violence during the ‘kisan tractor parade’ in Delhi on January 26.
Here are the latest updates as the protests completed 84 days on Wednesday:
1. The ‘rail roko’ agitation will be held across the country from 12 pm to 4 pm on February 18, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) announced last week. The SKM is an umbrella body of farmers’ unions spearheading the agitation and holding talks with the Centre.
2. The blockade will be the third major demonstration by the farmers as part of their agitation. Besides the January 26 tractor march, they held a nationwide ‘chakka jam’ on February 6.
3. In view of the impending blockade, several trains have been diverted or cancelled in Punjab. Farmers in the state had blocked railway tracks last September, days after the laws were passed. Two months later, the protesters shifted their agitation to Delhi.
4. 20 additional companies of the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) have been deployed across the country, news agency PTI reported. The focus is on Punjab and Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Majority of protesters are from Punjab and Haryana.
5. In Punjab, the ruling Congress, which has wholeheartedly backed the agitation, registered a comprehensive win in state local body elections, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the Centre, was wiped out.
6. On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court granted three-week transit anticipatory bail to lawyer-activist Nikita Jacob, granting her protection from arrest by the Delhi Police. Jacob had filed an ‘urgent’ bail plea on Monday, seeking protection from arrest in connection with the Google toolkit case.
7. The SKM has backed climate activist Disha Ravi, the first to be arrested in connection with the toolkit case and demanded her ‘unconditional’ release. Shantanu Muluk, another accused, was granted transit anticipatory bail on Tuesday.
8. The police on Wednesday said it had arrested another accused in connection with the January 26 violence in Delhi. 30-year-old car mechanic Maninder Singh was arrested from the national capital’s Pitampura on Tuesday.
9. Separately, a farm law agitator was arrested at the Singhu border for allegedly attacking a police official and fleeing with his car. The incident took place at around 8 pm on Tuesday and the accused was in an inebriated state, PTI quoted officials as saying.
10. The number of protesters had started dwindling at the three protest sites in Delhi in the wake of the January 26 violence. However, farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait broke down at the Delhi-UP Ghazipur border as the police moved in to clear the site, resulting in thousands of farmers rushing in from neighbouring states to join Tikait. Clashes between ‘locals’ and farmers at Tikri led to numbers swelling there as well as at Singhu. Both are borders between Delhi and Haryana.