Farmers Extend Stir in Punjab, Train Services Remain Affected

Farmers Extend Stir in Punjab, Train Services Remain Affected

Farmers blocking rail traffic at Khalchian village near Amritsar in protest against poor price of rice on Thursday, October 8, 2015. (Press Trust of India photo)

Chandigarh: Train and road traffic was hit in Punjab for second day today as thousands of farmers seeking higher compensation for crops damaged in Whitefly attack continued their stir, while unions spearheading the protest announced to extend it for another two days.

Jagmohan Singh, Secretary General of BKU (Ekta), said the "core committee meeting of farmers' unions decided to continue with their protest for the next two days."

"We are unhappy with the adamant approach of the Parkash Singh Badal government which did not even thought of holding talks with the protesting farmers," he said.

Commuters continued to face inconvenience as railway tracks were blocked at six places in the state.

Railways said that the traffic was hit on Bathinda-Sirsa, Ganganagar-Ferozepur, Bathinda-Bikaner, Ludhiana-Ferozepur, Bathinda-Patiala and Delhi-Mansa railway track due to the agitation.

Farmers are squatting on rail tracks at Mansa, Shergarh and Rampura area of Bathinda, Pathrala area of Muktsar, Dagru area of Ludhiana and Mucchhal in Amritsar, Singh said adding the Lehra-Sunam state highway had also been blocked.

The agitators are demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged by Whitefly attack and Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labour.

They are demanding Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.

They are also demanding Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety. Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills and debt relief.

Meanwhile, Core committee of agitating farmers today decided to extend their protest for another two days-- October 9 and 10-- the famers' union leader said.

Mr Singh alleged that the Punjab government is "callous and unconcerned" with the problems of the farmers.

"At least we should have been invited by the government for a talk, rather we have received inputs that the government will hold parleys with us after about two weeks," he said.

"Some 4,000 agitating farmers were rounded up by police from across the state and later released," Mr Jagmohan Singh said.

Mr Singh also said that more farmers today joined the agitation at six different places in the state and on one state highway.

However, police said that agitating peasants were "forcibly" lifted from the tracks at two places.

Police lifted small gatherings of farmers which had blocked rail traffic in Jaito area of Bathinda and Chand area in Faridkot district, officials said, adding that with this two tracks Ferozepur-Abohar and Faridkot-Bathinda have been opened.

As many as eight farmers' organisations including BKU Ekta (Dakunda), BKU Ekta (Ugrahan), BKU (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union are participating in the agitation.

Railways have re-routed, re-scheduled and diverted a number of trains bound for various destinations in the north, south, west and east in the wake of some technical work on railway track at Asaoti near Delhi, officials said.

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

Meanwhile, official sources said that the General Manager of Indian railways held video conferencing with the DRMs, including that of Ferozepur division in view of ongoing technical work on track near Delhi.