Rail roko: Farmers sit on tracks in Punjab, Haryana, stopping trains at stations
Chandigarh, Feb. 18 (PTI): Farmers on Thursday sat on railway tracks at many places in Punjab and Haryana as part of the four-hour ‘rail roko’ protest against the Centre’s three farm laws, with officials saying trains were halted at stations as a precautionary measure.
Normal movement of trains on various rail routes was disrupted as farmers squatted on tracks.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions which is spearheading the protest, had last week announced the nationwide rail blockade to seek the repeal of the three farm laws.
The farmers sat on tracks as part of the ‘rail roko’ agitation from 12 noon to 4 pm.
Farmers at Kurukshetra in Haryana climbed on the locomotive of the Gita Jayanti Express train, which had been stopped at the station.
“The train was scheduled to leave from the Kurukshetra station after 3 pm,” a railway official in Kurukshetra said, adding the farmers did not allow the train engine to change its end for some time.
In Punjab, protesters sat on tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route, officials said.
They blocked the Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar.
Farmers also squatted on railway tracks at Mullanpur, Dakha and Jagraon on Ludhiana-Ferozepur rail route in Ludhiana, said officials.
Bathinda-Delhi rail track in Bathinda, Delhi-Amritsar track in Amritsar, Amritsar-Tarn Taran track were also blocked by protesters.
In Haryana, protesting farmers, including women, squatted on railway tracks at many places, including those in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Panchkula, Rohtak, Sonipat, Hisar and Fatehabad districts, the officials said.
At some places, including those in Jind and Fatehabad districts, farmers could be seen smoking ‘hookahs’ while sitting on tracks.
On the Ambala-Delhi railway section, a group of farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader from Ambala, Gulab Singh Mankpur, squatted on a track at Shahpur village, about 2 kilometres from the Ambala Cantt station.
“Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till the farm laws are repealed,” said Manakpur.
Security was beefed up in both Haryana and Punjab with the government railway police and state police personnel having been deployed at many places in the two states, officials said.
Ferozepur’s Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Aggarwal said farmers are staging ‘dharnas’ at around 50 places.
He, however, added that neither any train was cancelled nor diverted because of farmers’ agitation.
The Ferozepur division of the Northern Railways halted some trains at stations so that passengers face less inconvenience during the ‘rail roko’ protest.
The halted trains included Malwa Express at Phagwara railway station, Super Express train at Jalandhar Cantt (in down direction), Malwa Express (up direction) at Pathankot Cantt station and Paschim Express at Ludhiana railway station.
Trains which were to run between 12 noon and 4 pm, were also halted at their respective stations, he further said, adding such trains included Dhanbad Express stopped at Ferozepur Cantt and Shahid Express at Amritsar.
Railway officials said train services would be resumed with necessary security protocols as and when farmers’ dharna’ is lifted.
The officials said the movement of trains to their destinations would be delayed because of the farmers’ rail blockade.
In Haryana, besides railway police personnel, the Haryana Police had deployed its staff in large numbers near protest sites and at various railway stations.
Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division, G M Singh said no train had been cancelled due to the rail roko’ agitation.
The Ambala DRM, however, said mail and goods trains were stopped at Saharanpur (UP), Ambala (Haryana) and Sirhind (Punjab).
These three railway stations fall in Ambala Railway Division of the Northern Railways.
In Jind, the railway tracks were blocked near Barsola village, where a large number of farmers, including women, squatted on them.
In Yamunanagar railway station, farmers squatted on Yamunagar-Jagadhri rail track while in Bahadurgarh, farmers, including women, with many of them carrying tricolour in their hands, sat on tracks.
In Sirsa too, farmers sat on railway tracks. Carrying placards, some of which read Kheti Bachao, Roti Bachao in their hands, they raised slogans against the government demanding the repeal of laws.
Farmers staged dharnas also on Hisar-Sadulpur, Hisar-Bhiwani, Hisar-Sirsa and Hisar-Jakhal rail tracks.
Protesters including women sitting on rail tracks and carrying flags of farmers’ bodies shouted slogans against the Centre and sought repeal of the farm laws.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they blocked railway tracks at 22 places, including at Nabha, Mansa, Barnala, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Jalandhar and Tarn Taran, in Punjab.
Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni had earlier appealed to the farmers to assemble at designated spots in their respective districts to make the protest a success.
He had also appealed to the farmers to protest peacefully.