Bhubaneswar: Train services were Monday affected in the East Coast Railway division of Odisha for around 30 minutes to one hour owing to the ‘rail roko’ agitation by farmers, demanding the dismissal and arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra for his alleged involvement in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence earlier this month.
The agitation call by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – an umbrella union of the farmers — received support from the Congress, the Left and the AAP in Odisha.
The SKM, which is spearheading the demonstration against the Centre’s three farm laws, gave a call for the six-hour-long ‘rail roko’ across the country in protest against the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh that led to the death of eight people.
In Odisha, however, the agitation continued for around 20 minutes at most stations, barring Gorakhnath, where demonstrators sat on the tracks for at least 50 minutes.
According to an ECoR official, as many as 12 trains came to a halt at the stations, causing problems for the daily commuters, even as the agitators refused to vacate the tracks.
The trains were allowed to move only after the protesters left the stations, he said
Senior CPI(M) leader Suresh Panigrahi claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the UP violence and his cabinet minister’s alleged role in the incident has fuelled anger among people.
The Congress, too, sought Mishra’s dismissal and arrest.
“We have extended our support to the agitation as we know that the investigation won’t be neutral if Ajay Mishra continues to be a minister in the central cabinet,” Congress MLA Suresh Routray claimed.
The legislator also demanded immediate withdrawal of the three contentious farm laws.
BJP leader and former MLA Pradip Purohit, on his part, said that the farmers’ body should be held responsible for the death of people in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Four of the eight people killed in the violence October 3 were farmers, who were allegedly knocked down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers. Angry farmers then reportedly lynched some people in the vehicles.
The other dead included two BJP workers and their driver.
Farmers claimed that Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by them. Ashish was later arrested.