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Farmers block tracks but protests remain peaceful in Punjab, Haryana
Chandigarh, February 18, 2021
Farmers protesting against the Centre's new agriculture laws blocked railway lines at most places in Punjab and Haryana in response to the call given by the farmers' unions for a nationwide "rail roko" on Thursday.
Though the four-hour blockades ended peacefully, the commuters faced a harrowing time.
Carrying the national flag along with their union flags, the protesters, comprising women, elders and children, started assembling along the railway lines and began squatting on the tracks well ahead of the start of the protest at 12 noon.
Heavy police deployment was in place in Haryana and Punjab to deal with any untoward incident.
At several protest sites, special arrangements were made for holding "langars" or community kitchens.
Farmers protesting against the legislations have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporate entities.
Meanwhile, railway officials in Delhi said the "rail roko" protest had "minimal or negligible" impact on train operations across the country and passed off without any untoward incident.
Railway Ministry spokesperson DJ Narain said, "The rail roko agitation passed off without any untoward incident. There was negligible or minimal impact on running of the trains across the country."
He said that the train movement in all the zones is normal now.
The official said the majority of the zones have not reported a single case of any stoppage of trains by the agitators.
He said that North Central Railway, South Eastern Railway, Southern Railway, South Eastern Railway, North Frontier Railway, Central Railway and South Western Railway did not report any untoward incident.
The spokesperson said that a few trains were stopped in some areas of some zonal railways but now train operations are normal.
"While dealing with the rail roko agitation, utmost patience was exercised by all concerned," he added.
In view of the four-hour long rail roko protest, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) had deployed 20 companies in the states of West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier in the day, at least 25 trains in Northern Railway zone were regulated in the wake of the call for the four-hour blockade.
In Bihar, the protestors had stopped trains at Sachiwalay Halt in Patna, at Arrah, Rohtas and Bihar Sharif railway stations.
The impact of the rail roko was also visible in several parts of Rajasthan, as farm leaders were seen standing on the engine of a train at the Gandhinagar railway station in Jaipur. The farmers also blocked the railway tracks in Chomu.
In Uttar Pradesh, the impact of the rail roko call had negligible impact. Farmers made efforts to stop trains in Meerut, Ballia, Prayagraj, Mathura, Bahraich, Bijnor, Amethi and Aligarh but their efforts were thwarted by alert policemen.
In Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, farmers blocked the railway tracks.