Punjab: Several trains affected as farmers squat on track demanding release of fellow protesters

Farmers sit on railway tracks during a protest at the Shambhu border, in Patiala district, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.
Farmers sit on railway tracks during a protest at the Shambhu border, in Patiala district, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Chandigarh/Ambala | Farmers under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha on Wednesday squatted on a rail track in Patiala district near the Punjab and Haryana border, demanding the release of three farmers who had been arrested by the Haryana Police.

The movement of more than 30 trains was impacted as they were either diverted, cancelled or short-terminated because of the blockade at the Shambhu Railway Station, railway authorities said.

The disruption in rail movement also caused inconvenience to rail passengers on the occasion of Ram Navami.

KMM leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the Haryana administration had given them an assurance that the arrested farmers would be released by April 16.

"When our farmers were not released, we decided to squat on the rail track," Pandher said.

Three farmers, including Navdeep Singh, were arrested during the ongoing farmers' stir.

Though the Punjab Police had erected barricades to prevent protesters from heading towards the rail track, farmers forced their way and sat on the Ambala-Ludhiana rail track.

Farmer leaders said they will not end their protest until the protesters are released.

"If the government releases them now, we will vacate the rail tracks within 10 minutes," said another farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal.

The farmer leaders said they were forced to sit on the rail track as the Haryana government failed to accept their demand.

Pandher threatened to squat on more rail tracks if the three farmers were not released in the coming days.

According to railway authorities, trains from Amritsar to New Jalpaiguri, Amritsar to Kathiar, Pathankot to Old Delhi, Amritsar to Tata Nagar, Kolkata to Amritsar, Delhi to Amritsar, Haridwar to Amritsar and Darbhanga to Amritsar were diverted.

While trains from Ludhiana to Churu and Churu to Ludhiana, Ambala Cantt to Jalandhar City, Ludhiana to Ambala Cantt, and Patiala to Ambala were cancelled, they said.

The SKM (non-political) and the KMM are spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' march by farmers to press the government to accept their demands which include that the Centre should give a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops.

The farmers have been staying put at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana since February 13 when their march was stopped by the security forces.

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