Farmers block train traffic in Punjab, Haryana as part of ‘rail roko’ stir over Lakhimpur incident

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana squatted on rail tracks on Monday morning as part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s six-hour ‘rail roko’ protest demanding the dismissal and arrest of Union Minister Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

The stir disrupted the movement of trains in both the states, causing inconvenience to passengers who could be seen waiting for long hours with their baggage.

Protests were held at many places, including Punjab’s Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Moga, Patiala and Ferozepur and Haryana’s Charkhi Dadri, Sonipat, Kurukshetra, Jind, Karnal and Hisar.

Protesting farmers, including women, raised slogans against the BJP-led government and demanded the arrest of Ajay Mishra. Security was deployed at railway stations in the wake of the ‘rail roko’ protest.

Farmers sat on rail tracks in several sections including the Ferozepur-Fazilka section in Ferozepur city and the Ferozepur-Ludhiana section at Ajitwal in Moga, officials said.

In a statement, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions spearheading the agitation against the Centre’s three agri laws, had said “protests will be intensified until justice is secured” in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.

During the ‘rail roko’ protest, all train traffic will be stopped from 10 am till 4 pm on Monday, the SKM had said.

“To press for its demand for MoS Home Ajay Mishra’s dismissal and arrest, so that justice can be secured in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, Samyukt Kisan Morcha has announced a nation-wide Rail Roko programme.

“SKM put out a call to its constituents to stop rail traffic for six hours on October 18 between 10 am and 4 pm. The SKM asks for this action to be taken up peacefully, without any destruction and damage of any kind to any railway property,” it had said.

At Ludhiana railway station — one of the busiest in Punjab — a person headed for Jodhpur rued that he came to know about the protest after reaching the station.

He appealed to farmer leaders to lay siege to the residences of politicians rather than harassing the common man. “They should think about the public.”

A man waiting for his train at Ludhiana station with his family said they have to rush for Gonda in Uttar Pradesh as one of their relatives has died.

At Patiala railway station, Dinesh Joshi searched frantically for milk and hot water for his child as the train he was travelling in had stopped due to farmers’ protest.

A group of protests put up a banner with ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ written on it in front of a train forced to stop at Moga. They also carried photos of four farmers killed in the Lakhimpur violence.

Demanding the arrest of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher on Monday said the KMSC will hold protests at 20 places in 11 districts of Punjab.

Four of the eight people who died in the violence on October 3 were farmers, allegedly knocked down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers. Angry farmers then allegedly lynched some people in the vehicles.

The other dead included two BJP workers, their driver and a local journalist.

Farmers have claimed that Ashish Mishra was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by him and Union Minister Ajay Mishra who say they can produce evidence to prove Ashish was at an event at that time.

Ashish Mishra was arrested in the case on October 9.