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Trains hit as 200 farmers block rail tracks in Punjab ahead of talks with Centre


Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, Feb 15, 2024: Around 200 farmers streamed into railway stations in Punjab and occupied train tracks as their standoff with the Union government for MSP and other key demands continued on Thursday. In response to the intensifying protest, the Haryana government suspended internet services till the night of February 16 along the border with Punjab, where thousands of farmers are attempting to breach barricades on their way to Delhi.

 

Farmers


The Centre and farmer leaders are gearing up for a third round of discussions amidst the ongoing ’Delhi Chalo’ march, which has seen thousands of farmers vowing to push ahead with their protest. Union Ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal, and Nityanand Rai are set to meet with representatives of the protesting farmer unions via video conferencing today evening.

Previous meetings between the two sides failed to yield results, prompting farmers to launch their protest march on Tuesday, February 13.

Senior Union Ministers, including Rajnath Singh and Arjun Munda, held discussions on Wednesday to address the ongoing farmers’ protests and related issues, news agency PTI reported, citing sources. The meeting, details of which are yet to be disclosed, saw Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, a former agriculture minister, discussing various farmer concerns with Munda, who currently oversees the Agriculture Ministry and has been involved in previous discussions with farmer groups.

Here’s the latest on the farmers’ protest:

1. At least 200 farmers staged a rail roko protest by sitting on the tracks at Rajpura Railway Junction, which is the largest junction near the Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana. The protest slated from 12 pm to 4 pm today was organised as a symbolic gesture. The demonstration affected train services on the Punjab-Delhi railway line during the protest hours.

2. Reacting to the ongoing farmers’ protest and their ’Delhi Chalo’ march, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar stated that while raising demands and traveling to Delhi is a right, the motives and methods of protest need scrutiny.

"We have seen all of this last year, how a scene was created and they occupied various borders which created problems for everyone...We have an objection to the way they are protesting...Tractor is not a mode of transport, they can come on buses or trains. Discussions should be done democratically so that a solution can be reached," he said at a press conference.

Taking a swipe at the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab, Khattar said, "Haryana asked Punjab to stop the farmers but they didn’t do it. Punjab government can stop, but they are not doing it, indicating that the government is supporting agitation."

3. Harmeet Singh Kadian of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kadian) and Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) Punjab Chapter called for a nationwide strike for February 16, with additional protests planned at toll plazas across Punjab on February 15 from 11 AM to 2 PM.

4. Security forces at the Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana resorted to tear gas to disperse farmers attempting to breach barricades. Some protesters responded by throwing stones. A few farmers flew kites in an attempt to down a police drone monitoring the protests.

5. Haryana Police have fortified the Data Singhwala-Khanauri border with barricades, preventing farmers from proceeding to Delhi on their tractor-trolleys. Demonstrations continued despite clashes and injuries reported on the first day of ’Delhi Chalo’ march.

6. The Delhi Police warned of heavy traffic on the DND Flyway due to security checks and advised commuters to seek alternative routes. Barricades, concrete blocks, iron nails, and container walls have been erected at key points around Delhi, such as Ghazipur, Singhu, and Tikri, to stop the farmers’ advance.

7. Protesting farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP), implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, and justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.


Courtesy: India Today


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