UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 01:36 PM IST
As the nationwide ‘rail roko’ protest by farmers against Centre’s farm laws started, scores of protesters blocked the railway tracks across south Malwa region.
Many leaders of the farmer unions blocked trains at more than 40 spots in Ferozepur railway division in Punjab. Officials said the security has been beefed up to prevent any untoward incident.
The ‘rail roko’ protest will continue for four hours – from 12 noon to 4 pm.
A large number of women have also joined the protesters to press the Centre to rollback the three contentious farm laws passed in September last year.
Ferozepur divisional manager Rajesh Agarwal said that no train was cancelled or diverted on Thursday before the ‘rail roko’ agitation started.
“Train services in the division, comprising of a major part of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, ran as per schedule till 11.30 am. After that, the trains were stopped till 4 pm at main railway stations. As per the inputs, the farmer unions are expected to stage demonstrations at about 50 sites,” said Agarwal.
In Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala too, hundreds of farmers have laid siege to railway tracks at multiple locations. Trains running under Ambala division have been halted at major railway stations across the region so that inconvenience to passengers can be avoided.
Train services will be resumed after the protesters vacate tracks.
“After the safety audit of the railway tracks, trains will be back in service after 4 pm. The railway authorities are in constant touch with the state police administration,” said the DRM.
The farmer leaders have accused the Centre of not paying heed to their demands. A farmer activist Jung Singh said they are not going to relent till the government accepts their demands.
Security has been tightened at railway stations across the country with special focus on Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
State Police, Government Railway Police (GRP), Railway Police Force (RPF) are on high alert. The Railways has deployed 20 additional companies of the RPF.
After the tractor rally and ‘chakka jaam’, ‘rail roko’ is the next major protest by the farmers against the three farm laws.
Farmers have been protesting at the different borders of the national capital since November last year, against the three newly enacted farm laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.