Rail, road traffic hit as farmers stage protests in Punjab

Farmers on Sunday squatted on railway tracks and blocked roads at several places in Punjab and Haryana as part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s nationwide protest against the Centre “reneging on its promises” made when the agitation against now-repealed farm laws was withdrawn last year.

In Punjab, the Ferozepur division of Indian Railways had to cancel or reschedule several trains because of the four-hour agitation. As a result, scores of passengers were forced to wait at various railway stations for hours.

According to railway officials, Amritsar-Pathankot, Amritsar-Qadian, Pathankot-Verka were among five trains which were cancelled while eight trains, including Amritsar-Jaynagar, Amritsar-Sealdah, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-New Delhi, Amritsar-New Delhi and Amritsar-Ajmer Express were rescheduled.

Two trains — Bathinda-Fazilka and Fazilka-Bathinda — were short terminated, they said.

Many trains were stopped and roads were blocked at several places from 11 am till 3 pm.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian, participating in the protest at Phillaur railway station, said the farmers were holding the protest on the call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ unions.Farmers alleged that they were forced to squat on rail tracks as the Centre was “not listening to their demands”.

BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said their members staged dharnas at eight toll plazas in six districts and 10 highways, including Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway at Mullanpur and squatted at rail tracks at Bathinda, Budhlada, Malerkotla and Patti.

In neighbouring Haryana, farmers held protests at many places, including Hisar, Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh, Tohana, Sonipat and Karnal. They also burnt effigies of the Central government and raised slogans, accusing the BJP-led dispensation of “going back on its promises”.