Hundreds of farmers squatted on railway tracks in 15 districts of Punjab on Thursday in response to a rail roko protest call given by BKU-Ugrahan to protest against the state government and to show ‘no confidence’ in the AAP dispensation. The protests on Thursday lasted till 3 pm.
Thursday’s protest by farmers interestingly went ahead despite Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit having thwarted the AAP regime’s plan to summon a special Assembly session for passing a trust vote in favour of the government.
The AAP had sought to prove its majority through a confidence motion in the assembly, days after it alleged that the BJP was trying to bring down its government in Punjab by poaching its MLAs. BKU-Ugrahan in turn had planned the rail roko protest to coincide with the AAP government’s plan to bring a confidence motion.
On Thursday, protesting farmers from BKU-Ugrahan blocked the railway tracks at Bucho Mandi and at Maur in Bathinda, and at Dhablan area of Patiala. In Ludhiana, the protest was held in Quila Raipur area.
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU-Ugrahan said that the rail roko also happened in Sangrur, Barnala , Moga , Ferozepur, Muktsar and Faridkot in Malwa districts of Punjab. In Majha, it happened in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran.
As per details, in Maur and Bhucho Mandi, the major demand of the protesters was to quash the Mining Act FIRs that had been lodged on September 8 against three trolley drivers. Maur MLA, Sukhveer Maiser Khana, himself had led the September 8 raid in which the trolleys were seized and some digging activity was allegedly found in the fields of one Harjinder Singh Baggi, who is also the general secretary of BKU-Ugrahan. However, so far Baggi hasn’t been named in any of the FIRs. “We have been assured that all FIRs will be quashed with five days or we will relaunch our protests again,” said Jagseer Singh Jhumba , district committee member of BKU Ugrahan.
Jhanda Singh Jethuke, senior vice president of BKU-Ugrahan said ,”The AAP government has been doing exactly opposite of what they had promised before the elections. They are not taking any pro-farmer decisions . Instead, they have let lose the police force, who cane charge farmers. Today we held a protest to just remind them that if our demands are not fulfilled, then we will launch an even bigger protest.”
Kokrikalan added ,”The AAP government hasn’t yet paid compensation to farmers for damage to cotton crop following the pink bollworm attack. The farm labourers are struggling to get their fair share of compensation. The government has imposed restrictions on farm labourers stopping them from organising dharna outside Dreamland Colony in Sangrur where Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann has a house. The police resorted to lathi charge to push back protesting assistant professors in Barnala recently. Farmers in Lambi suffered losses due to waterlogging, but they hardly got any help. Even moongi and gwara crops suffered damages, but no girdwari is happening .The rulers call themselves ‘Aam Aadmi’ but they have been acting like ‘Khas Aadmis’ ever since they came to power. So, this protest is our way of showing ‘no confidence’ against this government.”
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Shingara Singh Maan , general secretary of BKU-Ugrahan said, “On a short call given on Wednesday afternoon, this raik roko was organised at so many places. Imagine how big the protests could have been if this had been planned. We will be celebrating Bhagat Singh’s birthday on September 28 in Barnala and then decide our next course of action.”
According to details provided by railway authorities, three trains were cancelled in Ferozepur railway division due to the protest by farmers. Eight trains were delayed under Ambala division due to the protests, which ended at 3 pm on Thursday.