Lucknow: Undeterred by preventive arrests of farmer leaders, the threat of invoking National Security Act and imposition of Section 144 to prevent assembly of more than four persons, the ‘rail roko’ call by Samyukt Kisan Morcha drew a good response in Uttar Pradesh, where four farmers were mowed down on October 3.
The Uttar Pradesh government tried it best to thwart the protest. A day ahead of the ‘rail roko’ action planned by the Samuykta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to demand the removal and arrest of minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra over the alleged involvement of his son Ashish in Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3, the police swooped on the homes of dozens of farmer leaders and activists in different parts of the state in the wee hours of Sunday and whisked them away.
Personnel of Railway Police Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary, paramilitary forces and local police were deployed at railway stations across the state to prevent the farmers from squatting on the tracks.
Midnight raids and house arrests were reported from Deoria, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Etawah, Sonbhadra, Bahraich, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and other parts of the state. Later, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that the government did not approve of the protest and plans were afoot to ensure law and order was not compromised. The government also threatened to invoke the stringent National Security Act against those trying to “disrupt normalcy”.
A day before the protest, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits a gathering of four people, was imposed in Lucknow and almost every district of western UP, where a series of Kisan Mahapanchayats against the three farm laws have been held.
Rajneeti Yadav, president of Jai Kisan Andolan, was placed under house arrest in Azamgarh early Monday morning. “We were going to stop trains at the Azamgarh Railway Station in the morning. However, the police inspector of Sarai Mir landed at my place and placed me under house arrest. The Uttar Pradesh government’s attitude reminds us of the brutal and oppressive British rule,” Yadav told Newsclick.
Though the “government is leaving no stone unturned to stop the farmers’ movement from spreading in easter Uttar Pradesh, the flame has already spread across the state”, Yadav said, adding, “we will not stop until Union minister Ajay Mishra is sacked and arrested. Also, our struggle for the withdrawal of the three agriculture laws will continue”.
Meanwhile, around 50 farmers associated with the Communist Party of India, the Bharatiya Kisan Sabha and the Student Federation of India and led by Vivek Vikram Singh were arrested near the railway station in Jaunpur when they were moving ahead to stop trains.
Nearly, half-a-dozen farmers in Ballia, including SKM spokesperson Santosh Singh, were arrested on October 14 by the Chandrashekhar Nagar police. Singh, who was not told when he will be released, alleged police misbehaviour. In Maharajpur village of Sahatwar Police Station area, farmer leader Banshidhar Paswan was placed under house arrest.
FARMERS SQUAT ON TRACKS
“The Rail Roko protest was held to press for the removal and arrest of Ajay Mishra. If the government still does not arrest him, a massive movement will be organised in Lakhimpur Kheri and joined by farmers from across the country,” Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told Newsclick.
Farmers in Bilaspur, Rampur, climbed atop the Jammu Tawi-Kathgodam Express. While the Triveni Express reached Pilibhit 40 minutes late, the local train could not depart the Bareilly Railway Station. At Khurja Junction of Bulandshahr district, farmers sat on the tracks for several hours and stopped the Gomti Express from departing.
Farmers also squatted on tracks at Dhanaura Railway Station, in Mandi Dhanaura, Amroha district, delaying the Najibabad Passenger by more than 35 minutes, according to officials.
Three key trains—Super Express, Madurai Express and Kochuveli Express—at City Station in Meerut district were stopped by BKU supporters.
In Muradnagar of Ghaziabad, the protesting farmers, including women, stopped multiple trains for several minutes. At some places, including those in Meerut, Bijnor and Baghpat districts, farmers could be seen smoking hookahs while occupying tracks.
A group of farmers led by BKU members occupied a track in Hapur-Delhi section. “Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till Ajay Mishra is arrested and the farm laws are repealed,” Digamber Singh, BKU leader, told Newsclick.