Agitating farmers against the three agricultural laws passed by the center in September launched their rail rook andolan today, stopping several trains on the tracks in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Since morning large groups of farmers have congregated along the railway tracks and completely took over them, halting several trains in the process.
The agitation, scheduled from 12 noon to 4 pm in the evening is supposed to be peaceful, said the farmers’ unions.
Train services have been stopped in several areas as part of precautionary measures. Looking at the call of protest, security has been beefed up in Punjab and Haryana, with the deployment of the government railway police and the state police.
Delhi NCR has also been put on high alert due to the rail roko protests. Farmers have already blocked highways near Delhi since the past several months.
Many train stations in Haryana, especially in districts like Sonipat, Ambala and Jind were completely blocked.
Protesters, many of whom included women, squatted on the railway tracks in Ambala, Panipat, Kurukshetra, Panchkula and Fatehabad (Bhattu Kalan) districts.
In Punjab also, agitating farmers sat on the tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route. The Jalandhar Cantt-Jammu railway track in Jalandhar and in Mohali district have also been blocked by the farmers.
Although it was supposed to be peaceful, there was chaos in Bengaluru as farmers were stopped from protesting.
“We are not being allowed by the police to hold rail roko. The police say no permission has been given for this protest,” said a protesting farmer. “Why should we wait for the police to give permission when it was nationally announced by farm unions,” he added.
The rail roko protest was announced the previous week by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha — an aggregate of farmer unions –to press for its demand to revoke the farm laws.