Chandigarh: The Rail Roko Andolan, a protest movement by farmer organizations, entered its third day on Saturday, causing inconvenience to hundreds of passengers in different parts of Punjab. The farmers are demanding compensation for their crops damaged during the monsoon, as well as a legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. They have blocked railway tracks in several places, affecting the operation of trains and forcing many passengers to cancel their tickets.
According to the Indian Railways, 136 trains were canceled and 217 trains were affected in the Firozpur division of Northern Railway in the last two days due to the farmers’ movement. Official sources said that 25 trains were short-terminated, 16 were diverted, and 3100 passengers had to cancel their tickets. The Railways has refunded Rs 17 lakh to the affected passengers and arranged additional ticket counters at each station for their convenience.
The list of canceled or affected trains includes some important ones such as Amritsar-Hisar, Sealdah-Amritsar, Howrah-Amritsar, Indore-Amritsar, Mumbai-Amritsar, Haridwar-Amritsar, Pathankot-Amritsar, Ludhiana-Chheharta, Amritsar-Kadian and Pathankot-Amritsar. The Vande Bharat Express, a semi-high-speed train that runs between New Delhi and Varanasi, was also disrupted by the blockade.
The farmers’ movement is being led by 19 farmer organizations from six states, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Sarwan Singh Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, one of the leading groups in the protest, said that the movement will continue on Saturday and that farmers from Haryana will also join them. He said that the farmers are not satisfied with the government’s response to their demands and that they will intensify their agitation if their grievances are not addressed.
The farmers have blocked railway tracks in various locations across Punjab such as Moga, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar Cantonment, Tarn Taran, Sunam, Nabha, Basti Tankiwali, Mallanwala (Ferozepur), and Rampura (Bathinda), Devidaspura, Samrala and Malout. In Jalandhar, farmers have been sitting on the tracks since Thursday under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee. The blockade has affected not only passenger trains but also freight trains that carry essential commodities such as coal, fertilizers, and food grains.