Train services restored after being disrupted during the protest
NEW DELHI — Following the ‘Rail Roko’ call given by union leaders, farmers at different places across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka occupied tracks to stop the movement of trains for four hours on Thursday afternoon. The protests disrupted the schedule of many trains as authorities were forced to take precautionary measures.
There was an additional deployment of both railway and state police at some places near stations and tracks in Punjab.
Carrying the national flag along with their union flags, the protesters, comprising women, elders and children, started assembling along the railway lines and began squatting on the tracks well ahead of the start of the protest at 12 noon.
Reports said that the protesters completely blocked tracks at Sonipat, Ambala, Jind, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Panchkula and Fatehabad as they squatted along the tracks while carrying flags of unions in their hands.
At several protest sites, special arrangements were made for holding ‘langars’ or community kitchens.
The protests affected train services between Jammu and Delhi.
Farmers of nearby villages of Panchkula sitting on Railway track near sector 19 Panchkula during Rail Roko by Kisan Aandolan to protest against three Farm Laws @IndianExpress @iepunjab pic.twitter.com/YLSZiYwxZc
— kamleshwar singh (@ks_express16) February 18, 2021
Narela railway station on Delhi’s outskirts near Singhu Border, one of the protest sites, did not witness any trains till late afternoon amidst additional deployment of security forces. “Jhelum Express passed the station in the morning, and no train arrived after that,” a police officer was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
In Bengaluru, the police stopped the farmers from gathering along the tracks which triggered a brief commotion. The police told the farmers that the farmers would not be allowed to hit the tracks since no permission was given for these protests.
Director General, Railway Protection Force, Arun Kumar, had appealed to people to maintain peace in view of the ‘Rail Roko’ programme. He said the railways would take help from the district administrations to maintain security of the railways.
Late Thursday afternoon, the Indian Railways said that the day passed off without any untoward incident, adding that the services have been restored to normal.
Blocking of the trains was announced by Samyukt Kissan Morcha last week as part of the ongoing farmers’ agitation that has been waging since September last year. The protests escalated in late November when farmers, mainly from Haryana and Punjab, marched to Delhi and began camping at different places along the borders of the national capital demanding repeal of three pro-corporate farm laws brought in by the Modi government last year.