Singhu border, Ravi Kaushal: The nationwide ‘rail roko programme called by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) received significant response from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh where the farmers stopped the rail services at major points. The farmers’ leaders maintained that the services in Punjab and Haryana remained paralysed between 12 noon to 4 p.m as the states share two-way transit leading to the national capital.
Leaders of SKM, a collective of farmers’ unions, said that call was well received in Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra and Southern India. Talking to NewsClick, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union Sidhupur said that the programme saw exciting participation in states like Bihar where the movement is still in nascent stage. He said; “We are getting the preliminary reports from across the country that today’s agitation is successful. However, we will concrete reports only by the night. The increased participation only suggests that movement is growing and moving to areas which are politically important such as Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The ruling party is now feeling the tremors of the movement. This got reflected when its president J P Nadda had to call the presidents of its kisan cells to convince the farmers about the benefits of the farm laws.”
The leaders maintained that the entire programme was convened without troubling the passengers. They said that volunteers distributed water and food items to the stranded passengers. Dharamender Singh, one of the volunteers at the stage, said: “ We stopped the trains at the stations. So, no passenger should bear the difficulty mid-way.”
Punjab: ‘Rail Roko’ a Success in 15 Districts
Farmers across Punjab gathered at designated spots in their respective districts for "rail roko" protest against three agricultural laws that have inspired huge protests across India. As per the Union, 15 districts in Punjab, including Bathinda, Faridkot, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, among others, followed the call for ‘rail roko’.
Even though call was given for a peaceful protest, heavy security forces were deployed to avoid any untoward activity. Among the major stops, the protetsers blocked Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar Jalandhar Cantt- Jammu railway routes.
Around 40 stops in Firozpur railway division were blocked. Firozpur is one of the five railway division in Northern Railway zone of Indian railways and passes through major stops, including Amritsar, Jammu Tawi and Ludhiana.
"There are designated spots where farmers gathered and followed the unions call. The protest went on peacefully," said Vikas, in-charge, BKU (Ekta Urgrahan) media team.
As per the officials, trains at Golden Temple Mail (Amritsar-Mumbai Central), Jan Shatbadi Express (Haridwar-Amritsar), New Delhi- Jammu Tawi, Karambhoomi (Amritsar- New Jalpaiguri), Sachkhand Express (Nanded-Amritsar) and Shaheed Express (Amritsar-Jaynagar) were suspended.
Massive participation of women was witnessed at protest sites. The farmer unions accused Centre of ignoring farmers’ demands to benefit corporates. Speaking to Newsclick, Sukhdev Singh Dhillon said: "We are being forced to be on the streets. We fail to understand that when farmers are not welcoming these laws, why are these being imposed on us."
Wednesday’s civic poll results Punjab reflected resistance against BJP, which lost even in its bastions -- Abhor, Hoshiapur and Pathankot. The party’s defeat is being seen as a result of the ongoing farmers’.
Dhillon said: "BJP anyway didn't have strong presence in Punjab but now with ongoing protests the anger has multiplied. People have understood that the farm laws will not benefit anyone and such pro-corporate government can't be allowed in the state of farmers."
Haryana: Normal Train Movement Disrupted
Farmers on Thursday sat on railway tracks at many places in Haryana as part of the four-hour 'rail roko' protest against the Centre's three farm laws, with officials saying trains were halted at stations as a precautionary measure.
Normal movement of trains on various rail routes was disrupted as farmers squatted on tracks, as part of the 'rail roko' agitation from 12 noon to 4 pm.
Farmers at Kurukshetra in Haryana climbed on the locomotive of the Gita Jayanti Express train, which had been stopped at the station.
“The train was scheduled to leave from the Kurukshetra station after 3 pm," a railway official in Kurukshetra said, adding the farmers did not allow the train engine to change its end for some time.
Protesting farmers, including women, squatted on railway tracks at many places, including those in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Panchkula, Rohtak, Sonipat, Hisar and Fatehabad districts, the officials said.
At some places, including those in Jind and Fatehabad districts, farmers could be seen smoking 'hookahs' while sitting on tracks.
Besides railway police personnel, the Haryana Police had deployed its staff in large numbers near protest sites and at various railway stations.
In Jind, the railway tracks were blocked near Barsola village, where a large number of farmers, including women, squatted on them.
In Yamunanagar railway station, farmers squatted on Yamunagar-Jagadhri rail track while in Bahadurgarh, farmers, including women, with many of them carrying tricolour in their hands, sat on tracks.
In Sirsa too, farmers sat on railway tracks. Carrying placards, some of which read “Kheti Bachao, Roti Bachao” in their hands, they raised slogans against the government demanding the repeal of laws.
Farmers staged dharnas also on Hisar-Sadulpur, Hisar-Bhiwani, Hisar-Sirsa and Hisar-Jakhal rail tracks.
Protesters including women sitting on rail tracks and carrying flags of farmers' bodies shouted slogans against the Centre and sought repeal of three farm laws.
UP: Farmers Sit On Tracks, Minor Scuffle in Hapur, Chitrakoot
Abdul Alim Jafri
Lucknow: Scores of farmers in Uttar Pradesh resorted to 'rail roko' despite heavy police deployment and disrupted rail services at several places in Western UP.
Protesting farmers under the aegis of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) sat on the tracks in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Hapur, Ghaziabad at other places. Protestors could be seen pouring in at the protest sites, amid slogan shouting against the Centre.
Utkal Express, which plies from Odisha's Puri to Uttarakhand's, Haridwar was stopped at Ghaziabad railway station as farmers blocked the tracks at Modinagar railway station. Several farmers were detained.
In Hapur, police tried to push back farmer, but failed to stop them from reaching the spot.
“When we arrived at the railway station we were not allowed ‘rail roko’ by police officials here. When it was nationally announced by farmers unions, why did the police misbehave with us? Will government not allow protest in a democratic manner?” Avdesh, a farmer, said.
BKU leaders and farmers in Chitrakoot district demonstrated and blocked the railway station route. A minor scuffle broke out between farmers and the police when the former tried to march toward the railway track. Angry with police inaction, farmers sat on 'dharna' and raised slogans.
"Rail roko protest in UP began at 12 pm and end peacefully at 4 pm. Trains are not plying anyway. BKU supporters provided water, milk, lassi and fruits to people who are stranded. We explained to passengers about our issues," a BKU national spokesperson said.
“Hundreds of farmers and leaders were put under house arrest since Wednesday night. Even dozens of farmers were detained while they were on the way to block train. In UP, cops were deployed at prominent farmers leaders residence on Wednesday night to that they can join the call,” Mukut Singh, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) UP chapter told Newsclick.
Another farmer leader, Shayam Singh Chahar of Agra was disappointed with UP farmer leaders.
“The statement of supreme leader (reference to Rakesh Tikait) at Ghazipur border who is leading the protest keeps changing. In the night he ask to block road or sit on rail tracks and just before the event, he ask to distribute milk, tea and fruits to the passenger, If this is done, how will we mount pressure on government to repeal the laws,” Chahar told Newsclick.
MP: Farmers Blocks Tracks, Hundreds Detained
Bhopal: Railway passengers felt the pinch of farmers' protest on Thursday as farmers blocked the railway tracks of nearly a dozen stations in Madhya Pradesh.
Police detained hundreds of farmers in Gwalior, Dabra, Rewa, Satna, Morena, Bhind, Vidisha, and Raisen. A few were released hours after the detention while hundreds are still behind the bars.
"Farmers blocked railway stations in more than 10 places in Madhya Pradesh, while a few were either detained or stopped by the police on way to railway stations," said Badal Saroj of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), adding that "nearly 1,200 people were detained in Gwalior-Chambal region and Rewa and Satna.”
"From blocking roads to railway tracks, our intention is to register our disappointment against the three farm laws and Union Government repeal it," he added.
Organisations like Jagrit Kisan Sanghatan, Kisan Sabha, Kisan Khet Mazdoor Sanghatan, Rashtriya Kisan Sanghatan and others observed the 'Rail Roko Abhiyan' in the state. In Raisen police detained farmers on way to railway station, while in Indore, farmers stopped outside the railway station.
JKS’s, Irfan Jaffri said: "Police detained nearly 150 farmers and workers while we were on way to Raisen railway station to block tracks. However, we were released hours later."
Parmjeet Singh of RKS said farmers blocked national, state highways in Riasen's Bareli, Jhabua and Morena.
A senior officer of the MP Police claimed that the a few people were detained under Section 151 of the IPC and were released hours later. "The protest was observed in nearly a dozen districts and a few people were detained to maintain law and order situation," he said requesting anonymity.
AP, Telangana: Dharnas in Front of 40 Rail Stations
Hyderabad: Farmers organisations held peaceful dharnas in front of about 40 railway stations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Near Kacheguda rail station in Hyderabad, police arrested farmers and agriculture workers’ union leaders as they tried to enter the station to block trains. “In Telangana, protests were held in over 20 centres near railway stations and junctions, along with peaceful dharnas organised by farmers.
CPI(M) leader and former MLA Julakanti Rangareddy was detained along with other farmers and tribal leaders as they attempted a rail blockade in Miryalaguda railway station.
“We have been demanding the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to apologise to farmers for changing his stance on the controversial farm laws. The CM and his party had supported the farmers agitation in December but is now talking about their implementation,” said Rangareddy.
Farmers rallied to the railway stations in Warangal, Khammam and Mahaboobnagar and held dharnas for several hours.
In Narsipatnam Railway station in Andhra Pradesh, massive police deployment prevented groups protesters from blockading the tracks.
According to farmers’ organisations, farmers held dharnas at 18 centres near railway stations in Andhra Pradesh due to restrictions owing to the ongoing panchayat elections. Sit-in protests were held in the premises of railway stations in Vijayawada, Guntur, Ongole and Kurnool.
V Shobanadishwara Rao, representing AIKSCC said: “The PM was crying in the Parliament when his colleague from the opposition party retired but he did not even show solidarity to the 200 farmers who died during the protests against the black (farm) laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Andhra Pradesh, workers belonging to CITU also held protests in all district headquarters in solidarity with and against the Centr’s plans to privatise Vizag Steel Plant.
Bihar: 2-Hour Protest Due to Board Exams
Mohd Imran Khan
Patna: Train traffic was hit across Bihar on Thursday during a ‘rail roko’ by farmers, supported by Left parties and Jan Adhikar Party to protest against farm laws.
According to reports reaching here, the ‘rail roko’ hit train traffic in Begusarai,Gaya,Arwal,Jehanabad,Darbhanga,Muzaffarpur,Katihar,Purnea,Bhojpur,Buxar districts.
Unlike the intended four hours of ‘rail roko’ in other states, in Bihar the protest was for only two hours between 2 p.m and 4 p.m in view of the ongoing Class 10th board exams. TheAll India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), the protesting farmers' umbrella body and Opposition parties had decided that they would not create inconvenience to students.
Thousands of farmers, leaders and workers of Left parties -- CPI (M),CPI (ML) and CPI -- took to the streets and blocked railway tracks across the state with red flags in their hands. Hundreds of JAP members also blocked railway tracks.
“Leaders of parties, their workers and members of farmers' bodies have staged protests and blocked tracks and halted a number of trains across the state,” CPI(M) leader Arun Kumar Mishra said.
In Patna, CPI (M) workers protested in front of gate no 1 of Patna junction ,took out a march on platform no 1 and halted a train for nearly an hour, said party leader Manoj Kumar Chandrawansi.
The ‘rail roko’ comes after the ‘chakka jam’ and human chain across Bihar in support of the farmers protesting against the three contentious farm laws.
West Bengal: Trains Stopped in 56 Spots
Kolkata: The ‘rail roko’ programme was held in 56 spots in West Bengal, such as Howrah, Burdwan, Hooghly, South 24 Parganas, North24 Parganas, etc.
Keeping in mind the board exam schedule, the time for the protest action was fixed from 3 p.m to 4 p.m by farmers organisations affiliated to AIKSSC, said Amal Haldar, convenor of the committee.
Farmers belonging to AIKS, along with their farm equipment in their hands, squatted on rail tracks in 56 spots, resisting RPF’s efforts to stop them.
Rajasthan: Train cancelled, Some Delayed
Jaipur: A train was cancelled and a few others were delayed as farmers squatted on tracks as part of their ‘rail roko’ agitation in Rajasthan on Thursday.
The Rewari-Sri Ganganagar special train was cancelled due to the farmers’ ‘rail roko’ agitation, said chief spokesperson of the North-Western Railway, Gaurav Gaur.
Rajasthan | Image Courtesy: Samyukt Kisan Morcha
At several places, farmers staged demonstrations on the tracks. In Jaipur, farmers stopped a train in Jaipur and climbed on its engine. When RPF personnel brought them down, they sat on tracks.
Maharashtra: Mixed Response
Mumbai/Pune: The ‘rail roko’ protest in Maharashtra got a mixed response on Thursday, with some districts seeing successful action. There were protests in a few cities, too.
In Aurangabad station, farmers stopped the trains for 20 minutes, after which the Rail Police detained them. While protesting at Sangli station, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) members were detained on the platforms. The Rail Police didn't allowed them to reach the tracks. In Nasik, the protest took place in various locations, including in the city, where workers, led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions held a protest in solidarity with farmers.
In Dahanu, CPI(M) MLA Vinod Nikole led the ‘rail roko’ agitation, which was biggest action in the state. More than a thousand farmers stopped rails at Dahanu.
"The Modi Sarkar was thinking that the farmers’ protest is in just in one state. But, it will now see that farmers from all over India are rising against the laws. This government won't be able to push these laws," said Nikole.
In Pune, members of various organisations and political parties held a protest at the Pune railway station, officials said.
Labour welfare activist Nitin Pawar said that members of several organisations and workers of political parties, including Congress, Shiv Sena, Nationlist Congress Party, Janata Dal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), took part in the agitation at the Pune railway station.
The protesters blocked the Koyna Express and shouted slogans, standing in front of trains, he said.
Delhi: No Trains Arrive in Narela Post Noon
New Delhi: The Narela railway station in Delhi was witness to an unusual sight on Thursday -- hundred-odd police personnel and about 20 people dotted its platforms but none was expecting a train anytime soon.
With farmers blocking tracks in different parts of Punjab and Haryana as part of their "rail roko" agitation against the Centre's three farm laws, no train arrived at the Narela station post noon.
According to a senior police officer, the trains scheduled to arrive at Narela were stopped by protesting farmers in Haryana's Sonepat.
"Jhelum Express passed the station in the morning, and no train arrived after that," the police officer said.
He said approximately 100 personnel drawn from the local police and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have been deployed at the railway station to respond to any eventuality during the agitation.
The Delhi Police on Thursday tightened security in several parts of the national capital, especially near railway tracks, in view of the four-hour "rail roko" (rail blockade) called by the farmer groups protesting against the Centre's new agri laws.
Jammu: Farmers Lie Down on Tracks
Jammu: Hundreds of farmers assembled at the railway track in Jammu's Channi Himmat area as a part of four-hour nationwide ‘rail Roko’ agitation against three contentious farm laws. Under the banner of United Kisan Front, the assembled farmers urged the Centre government to roll back the farm laws.
Alongside farmers, various social activists also joined in support. Speaking with NewsClick, one of the protestors, Narendra Singh, said: "This protest is to remind the government that we have not forgotten our demands and that the entire India is in solidarity with the protesting farmers. Our demand is basic: ‘kaale kanoon wapis lo (repeal the black laws)."
Few farmers were seen lying on the railway tracks while others were holding Kisan Ekta flags in the backdrop of rail blockade call. As per the sources, the movement of one train was cancelled.
Kulwant Singh from Global Farm Union, Jammu and Kashmir said, "The government has no other option but to repeal these laws. They should understand that this is not the time to confront protestors but to listen to them. Farmers will suffer because of these black laws."
Kerala: Marches held in District Centres
In Kerala, protesting farmers marched to Central government offices at district centres across the state. Kerala Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi, the joint platform of various farmers’ unions in the state, led these marches on Thursday.
Thousands of farmers took part in all 14 district centres. In the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, farmers have marched to AG’s office. In Kollam, the march was to the railway office.
“It’s clear that Narendra Modi won’t initiate to solve this issue. But the people of the country are determined,” said KN Balagopal, the state general secretary of Kerala Karshaka Sangham, the Kerala chapter of All India Kisan Sabha, which is one of the leading organisations in the ongoing protests across the country.
“Samyukta Karshaka Samithi in Kerala has been on protest for over last two months. The ongoing protests are not just limited to farmers of Punjab or Haryana. The protests have significance in Kerala as well. The agriculture sector in Kerala had started facing backlash since the implementation of ASEAN treaty. The price of rubber which was at Rs 240 per kilogram had become less that 120/kg after signing the treaty. The prices of coffee, tea leaves etc., have also been declined,” he added.