TAD NewsDesk, Chandigarh: Farmers in various parts of Punjab started a three-day “Rail Roko Aandolan” on Thursday, protesting the Union government’s recent agriculture Bills.
Being conducted under the banner of Kisaan Mazdoor Sangarsh Samiti and various other farmer outfits, the agitation is expected to hamper freight traffic, which had recently gotten onto the path of recovery after a long hiatus.
Immediately after the strike was announced, the Railways cancelled at least 14 special trains running from the Ferozepur division between 24th and 26 September. A Railways official said that this move was employed keeping the safety of passengers and railway property in mind. He said,
“This agitation will severely hamper the loading-unloading of food grains and other goods. It will also harm ordinary citizens and the recovering freight rails.”
So far, freight trains in Punjab have reportedly loaded 990 rakes in August and 816 rakes in September. Based on the data provided by the Food Corporation of India, on average, it loads about 35 rakes of food grains every day. Additionally, Punjab loads around ten rakes of fertilizer, cement, and other mixed goods in freight containers. In terms of incoming produce, Punjab is currently receiving 20 rakes of food grain, coal, dairy products, machinery, and fertilizers, the non-receival of which may cause a dent in the dwindling economy of the state.
In addition to freight carriers, several passenger trains have also been cancelled. Prominent among them are the New Delhi to Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express, Amritsar to Mumbai Central Golden Temple Mail, Haridwar to Amritsar Jan Shatabdi Express, and Amritsar to New Jalpaiguri Karmbhoomi express, among others.
Meanwhile, Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), another farmers’ outfit that represents a dozen farmer unions across the nation, has called for a nationwide bandh on Friday.
Yudhvir Singh, the national convener for ICCFM, said,
“We farmers have been demanding fair and remunerative prices for the past four decades. The BJP government made promises of doubling farmers’ incomes during elections. Instead of fulfilling that promise, we are now being slapped with these Bills designed to end the governments’ responsibility to ensure a fair price to farmers. When seen in totality, these bills have nothing to do with improving farmers’ incomes, over 80 per cent of whom are small and marginal farmers.”
In related news, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has also said that it would be forced to stage a countrywide protest if MSP (minimum support price) guarantee was not incorporated in the bill(s).