Chandigarh: Farmers sat on railway tracks Thursday at many places in Punjab and Haryana as part of the ‘rail roko’ protest against the Centre’s new farm laws. Railways officials stopped trains at many stations as a precautionary measure. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of farmer unions is spearheading the protest. Last week it had announced the nationwide rail blockade to press for its demand to repeal the farm laws. The agitation will be from 12.00 noon to 4.00pm.
In Punjab, protesters sat on tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route, officials said. Farmers also blocked the Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar.
In Haryana, protesting farmers, including women, squatted on rail tracks at many places, including in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Panchkula districts, the officials said. On the Ambala-Delhi railway section, a group of farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader from Ambala, Gulab Singh, squatted on a rail track at Shahpur village, about two kilometres from the Ambala Cantonment station. “Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till the farm laws are repealed,” Singh said.
Security has been tightened in both Haryana and Punjab with personnel of the government railway police and the state police forces being deployed, officials said.
The Ferozepur division of the Northern Railways has decided to halt trains at stations so that passengers face less inconvenience during the ‘rail roko’ protest. The officials said that the movement of trains is likely to be delayed because of the farmers’ rail blockade. Train services will be resumed after following due security protocols once the agitation is over, they said.
In Haryana, besides railway police personnel, the Haryana Police has deployed its staff in large numbers near the protest sites and at various railway stations.