‘Rail roko’ agitation starts in Punjab, train services suspended
Chandigarh/New Delhi: Farmers in Punjab began their three-day “rail roko” protest against farm Bills on Thursday as the Railways suspended several trains to avoid any untoward incident.
Railway authorities said 14 pairs of special trains will remain suspended from September 24 till 26. The decision has been taken keeping in mind the safety of passengers and protection of railway property from any damage, officials said.
Among the trains that will remain suspended are the Golden Temple Mail (Amritsar-Mumbai Central), Jan Shatabdi Express (Haridwar-Amritsar), New Delhi-Jammu Tawi, Karambhoomi (Amritsar-New Jalpaiguri), Sachkhand Express (Nanded-Amritsar) and Shaheed Express (Amritsar-Jaynagar), officials said.
Many freight and parcel trains have also been rescheduled.
At present, routine passenger train service remains suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call for ‘rail roko’ agitation was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and later different farmers’ outfits extended their support to it.
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) squatted on rail tracks in Barnala and Sangrur on Thursday morning.
Farmers under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have decided to squat on rail tracks near Devidaspur village in Amritsar and Basti Tanka wala in Ferozepur.
Representatives of the committee said they were getting support from several sections, including government employees and labourers.
Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu said they have appealed to representatives of political parties, ministers, MPs and MLAs not to take part in the farmers’ agitation.
They vowed to gherao BJP leaders and socially boycott those who voted in favour of the farm Bills.
As many as 31 farmers’ outfits have given a call for a complete shutdown of Punjab on September 25.
Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the Bills would pave a way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.
Parliament has passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill; Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill.
They await the President’s nod to become laws.
Meanwhile, railway officials said the Nanded-Amritsar train will end its journey in Old Delhi. Train number 02716 will run from Old Delhi instead of Amritsar on September 25 and 26.
The Dhanbad-Ferozepur Cantt train will not go to Ferozepur Cantt and end its journey at Ambala Cantonment. Train number 03308 will run from Ambala Cantt from September 24 to 26 instead of Ferozepur Cantt.
The Mumbai Central-Amritsar train arriving on September 24 will be brought to Ludhiana and it will end its journey at Ambala from September 25 to 26.
Train number 02904 will run from Ambala from September 24 to 26 instead of Amritsar.
A Railways spokesperson in New Delhi said the agitation will severely impact loading of foodgrain and other essential goods.
Officials said the Food Corporation of India is daily loading over 35 rakes of foodgrain from Punjab.
They said Punjab also loads 9-10 rakes daily of fertiliser, cement, auto, mixed goods in containers.