The protesting farmers’ unions will hold a nationwide ‘Rail Roko’ program for four hours on Thursday as part of their agitation against the three contentious farm laws.
The farmers have planned to carry out a peaceful protest between 12 pm and 4 pm, according to Jagtar Singh Bajwa, spokesperson of the Kisan Andolan Committee, Ghazipur border.
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“We will offer refreshments to the passengers to avoid inconvenience,” said Bajwa.
Meanwhile, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions, has called for a peaceful protest, expecting to get support for the program from across the country.
“Appeal to everyone for a peaceful protest in nationwide ‘Rail Roko’ program on February 18 from 12 noon to 4 pm,” it said.
Here are the key updates of the protests today
SKM’s statement: Demanding that the government resolve the farmers’ issues immediately, SKM said: “It is clear that instead of resolving the ongoing struggle’s demands, BJP is trying its best to counter and destroy it. SKM condemns this attitude of the ruling party and demands that the government resolve the farmers’ issues immediately without any further delay. SKM vows that it will intensify the struggle and mobilise more farmers in its support.
The statement came in the light of a high-level meeting presided over by BJP chief JP Nadda, Union Home minister Amit Shah and Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar was attended by leaders from all ranks from states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The SKM also condemned an alleged attack by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) “goons” on a peaceful protest organised by the All India Krishak Khet Majdoor Sangathan in Muzaffarpur on Wednesday.
Additional security arrangements: The railways has deployed 20 additional companies of the RPSF across the country, with focus on Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, in the wake of the Rail Roko.
Director-General, Railway Protection Force, Arun Kumar on Wednesday said, “I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. We will be liaisoning with district administrations and will have a control room in the place.”
On ‘toolkit case’: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted transit anticipatory bail to advocate Nikita Jacob, a suspect in a case registered by Delhi police in connection with the “toolkit” shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg over the ongoing farmers’ protest.
The SKM has backed 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, the first to be arrested in connection with the’ toolkit case’ and demanded her ‘unconditional’ release. Shantanu Muluk, another accused, was granted transit anticipatory bail on Tuesday.
Republic Day violence: A team of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell has arrested a man, identified as Maninder Singh alias Moni, in connection with the violence at the Red Fort on Republic Day, Delhi Police officials said on Wednesday.
Third major demonstration: Rail Roko will be the third major demonstration by the farmers as part of their agitation. Besides the 26 January tractor march, they held a nationwide ‘chakka jam’ on 6 February.
The protesting farmers had blocked all national and state highways between 12 pm and 3 pm on 6 February in response to internet shutdowns in areas around the protest sites and farmers being ignored in the Union Budget.
Series of events: The farmers had earlier this month announced a series of events to highlight their demands.
Farmers’ unions had said that they will close all toll plazas in Rajasthan and make them free from 12 February. Following this, a candle march or ‘mashal juloos’ was taken out, accompanied by other activities, on 14 February across the country to remember the sacrifices of martyred soldiers in the Pulwama attack.
On 16 February, the farmers observed the birth anniversary of peasant leader Chhotu Ram.