Protesting farmers on Sunday squatted on roads and railway tracks in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country, alleging the Centre had “reneged on its promises” made last year when the agitation over the now-repealed farm laws was withdrawn.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), in its national meeting held on July 3, had given the call for a nationwide ‘chakka jam’ to be held on the Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh. Protesters were active at several places in Punjab and Haryana, which were also the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation against the central farm laws.
“The Union Government has not fulfilled any of the promises made to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha in its letter dated December 9, 2021, on the basis of which the farm movement was suspended. The government is still not ready to discuss the legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP). The Cabinet is reported to have approved the Electricity Amendment Bill for placing in Parliament. Nor have the false cases registered against the farmers been withdrawn,” SKM, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, said in a statement.
In Punjab, the Ferozepur division of Indian Railways had to cancel or reschedule several trains because of the four-hour agitation. As a result, scores of passengers were forced to wait at various railway stations for hours.
According to railway officials, Amritsar-Pathankot, Amritsar-Qadian, Pathankot-Verka were among five trains which were cancelled, while eight trains, including Amritsar-Jaynagar, Amritsar-Sealdah, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-New Delhi, Amritsar-New Delhi and Amritsar-Ajmer Express, were rescheduled.
Two trains — Bathinda-Fazilka and Fazilka-Bathinda — were short terminated, they said.
“I, along with my wife, came here for treatment. We had to return to Jammu today. Our train, which was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 am, got delayed for several hours,” said a Jammu-based man at Jalandhar railway station.
Many trains were stopped and roads were blocked at several places from 11 am till 3 pm.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian, participating in the protest at Phillaur railway station, said the farmers were holding the protest on the call given by SKM.
Farmers alleged that they were forced to squat on rail tracks as the Centre was “not listening to their demands”.
BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said their members staged dharnas at eight toll plazas in six districts and on 10 highways, including the Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway at Mullanpur. They squatted on rail tracks in Bathinda, Budhlada, Malerkotla and Patti.
In neighbouring Haryana, farmers held protests at many places, including Hisar, Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh, Tohana, Sonipat and Karnal. They also burnt effigies of the Central government and raised slogans, accusing the BJP-led dispensation of “going back on its promises”.
In Hisar, protesting farmers held demonstrations at five toll plazas and burnt effigies of the central government. Bharatiya Kisan Sabha leader Shamsher Nambardar alleged that “the Centre has gone back on most promises” made to the farmers when the protest against the now-repealed farm laws was withdrawn.
In Sonipat, farmers took out a protest march and burnt the Centre’s effigy. They demanded that farmers be given legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP) of crops. In Karnal too, farmers held a protest at a toll plaza.
Many protesting farmers in Haryana said that earlier, it was decided to organise a ‘chakka jam’ (road blockade), but the plan was changed in view of students appearing in competitive examinations and also the Teej festival.
“The demands of the farmers include a legal guarantee for the MSP and justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case,” said BKU (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal. When asked about the panel on MSP formed by the Centre recently, Lakhowal said the members of the committee were in favour of the now-repealed farm laws.
The farmers’ demands also include the withdrawal of cases registered during the anti-farm laws protests last year, compensation to the families of those killed during the stir and rollback of the Agnipath military recruitment scheme.
The SKM also announced that it will also organise Jai-Jawan Jai-Kisan conventions across the country from August 7 against the Agnipath scheme.
It will also organise a 75-hour permanent morcha at Lakhimpur Kheri on August 18, 19, 20, to demand the dismissal and arrest of Minister of State Ajay Mishra Teni, in which farmer leaders and workers from across the country will participate, the statement added. (PTI)