The railways have stepped up security and deployed 20 additional companies across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
As farmers gather support for their nationwide ‘rail roko’ call on Thursday afternoon, Bharatiya Kisan Union Rakesh Tikait asserted that the demonstration will be peaceful and added that they will also offer refreshments to passengers stuck during the four-hour blockade.
He told the new agency ANI that the demonstration will begin at 12noon and go on till 3-4pm. “Trains aren’t plying anyway. It’ll be done peacefully. We’ll provide water, milk, lassi & fruits to people who will be found stranded. We will tell them our issues,” he said ahead of the blockade.
“We will welcome trains and passengers will flower garlands. We have intensified the campaign to keep farmers active on social media. We instructed dozens of farmers today and also created their profiles on social media,”Kisan Andolan Committee spokesperson Jagtar Singh Bajwa told ANI.
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When asked if the ‘rail roko’ agitation will be extended to poll-bound West Bengal too, Tikait told ANI, “Their crops are not being sold on MSP. We have got nothing to do with elections. We will talk to the farmers there.”
On Wednesday, the farm union leader had reiterated his stand to hold panchayats in the eastern state and said that he will raise issues of farmers there. Tikait and other farmers’ leaders have been holding panchayats regularly in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other areas in the national Capital region to gather support for the ongoing agitation.
The railways have stepped up security and deployed 20 additional companies across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to prevent the protests from taking a violent turn. They have also appealed to farmers to ensure that the protest remains peaceful and no inconvenience is caused to passengers.
High security was also seen at Haryana’s Palwal railway station and Ghaziabad Junction in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the blockade.
A day before the ‘rail roko’ programme, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha had on Wednesday accused the Centre of trying to “counter and destroy” the farmers’ movement against the new agricultural laws.
Earlier this month farmer unions had called a ‘chakka jam’ and a ‘tractor parade’ in Delhi on January 26. The Republic Day protest had turned violent as clashes broke out between the police and protesters. A section of protesters also hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort following which several cases have been registered and arrests have been made in connection with the violence.