Published On: Tue, Oct 6th, 2015

Farmers to block rail traffic on Oct 7, 8

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Chandigarh: Rail passengers are likely to face inconvenience as farmers’ outfits in Punjab would be blocking rail traffic on October 7 and 8 at several places in the state to protest against SAD-BJP led government’s “anti-farmer” policies.

As part of their plan to intensify their agitation, eight farmers’ organisations, including BKU Ekta (Dakunda), BKU Ekta (Ugrahan), BKU (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union will disrupt train movements for two days in the state.

“We are going ahead with our plan to block rail traffic on October 7 and 8 at different places in Punjab to press the Centre and state government to accept our demands,” BKU (Ugrahan) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri said today.

He said that farmers would disrupt rail services at about 12 places including Rampura in Bathinda, Mansa, Sunam in Sangrur, Moga, Beas, Phillaur in Jalandhar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Patiala.

Among various other demands, farmers in Punjab have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for those whose crop got damaged by white-fly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labour, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety.

They are also demanding higher compensation for cotton growers and remunerative rates for basmati crop.

Besides, they are seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who committed suicide.

Acknowledging that their agitation would cause inconvenience to rail passengers, farmers’ outfits have sought their (passengers) support.

Railways had already asked Punjab government to prevent protesting farmers from disrupting rail services, saying passengers had to face harrowing time because of such protests.

In the past few months, several instances of blocking rail traffic by protesters had taken place in Punjab, adding to the passengers’ woes.

Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Rohit Chaudhary, when contacted, said that force would be deployed at different places to prevent protesters from disrupting rail services in the state.

An official of Northern Railways said, “Rail Roko agitations even for a few hours results in heavy disruption to regular schedules of not only the scheduled trains but also has a domino effect on other trains on the sections; in short, throwing out of gear all train operations.”

The ruling Akali Dal had even asked protesting farmers’ outfits not to “play politics” with farmers’ woes and had even accused them of “sowing discord” in the peasantry for their vested interest.

Notably, last year Punjab Assembly had passed Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Bill, 2014, amid strong opposition from various quarters.

Under this law, any agitation, strike, dharna, demonstration, procession or blockade of rail or road traffic by any individual, group of individuals, organisation or party (social, religious or political) that results in damage to any public or private property would be considered as “damaging act” and would be punished with imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh.

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