Tuesday, October 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab farmers block rail, road traffic over MSP
Tribune Reporters

Farmers belonging to various unions block the railway track at Phillaur on Monday. — photo Pradeep Tewari

Rail track blocked track near Rampura Phul (Bathinda) on Monday. — photo Kulbir Beera

Mansa, September 30
On a call of five kisan unions, hundreds of farmers sat in dharna here today in the railway yard railway track for four hours, hindering the flow of railway traffic. Union leaders criticised the Centre for not increasing the minimum support price of paddy. They said there was an all-round rise in the prices of agriculture inputs and the MSP announced by the Centre was not commensurate with the high prices of production. They said the cost of production of paddy worked out at Rs 649 per quintal. They said the farmers were already hit by drought conditions. They demanded Rs 760 as the MSP for paddy and a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal.

PHILLAUR: More than 250 farmers blocked railway traffic for three hours and road traffic for half an hour at Phillaur on Monday, seeking a hike in the MSP of paddy.

Railway traffic on the Phillaur-Ludhiana, Phillaur-Lohian and Phillaur-Phagwara sections remained suspended from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., owing to a dharna by the farmers on the railway tracks at the Noormahal rail crossing on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana main line. A rally was also organised in which leaders criticised the government’s policy on farmers.

Meanwhile, as a preventive measure, the Railways stopped 9368 Dn Malwa Express at the Bhattian railway station from 1.12 p.m to 3 p.m, 4650 Dn Flying Mail at the Phagwara railway station from 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m, the 9367 Up Malwa Express at the Sahnewal railway station, the Up Shatabdi Express at the Dhilwan railway station from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Later, the protesters blocked road traffic on the Phillaur-Ludhiana and Phillaur-Jalandhar roads near the bus stand for more than half an hour. They raised anti-government slogans.

MOGA: Railway traffic on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore section of Northern Railway remained suspended for three hours on Monday following a blockade by farmers on the Dagru railway station, about 15 km from here. A number of leaders of the BKU also took part in the protest and warned the government of dire consequences if it failed to meet the demands of the farmers.

AMRITSAR: Hundreds of farmers laid seige to railway tracks and blocked roads for more than three hours here on Monday in protest against the alleged anti-farmer policies of the state and Central governments.

The Shatabdi Express, the Shaan-e-Punjab and the Barauni Express were delayed for more than three hours by the protesters. Commuters to the walled city area had to face inconvenience due to traffic jams caused because of the agitation.

Protesters from the CPI, the CPM and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee were demanding an increase in the MSP of paddy. Mr Kawaljit Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, while addressing the protesters, asked the government to provide them electricity free of cost for tubewell connections, to make balance payments of sugarcane procurement along with interest and to increase the MSP of paddy.

GURDASPUR: Workers of Left parties participated in large numbers in a “rail roko” dharna here on Monday on the MSP issue. The dharna started at 1 p.m. and lasted till 3 p.m. However, no train passed through Gurdaspur during the dharna because trains were held up at Amritsar and Pathankot.

According to a PTI report, Army jawans got the chance to flex their muscles when agitating CPI activists refused to provide passage to their truck carrying an injured jawan for emergency medical aid here on Monday.

When pleas by the Army jawans to the CPI activists, who had blocked traffic at the Bhandari bridge, to provide them passage failed, the jawans resorted to mild force to clear the way.

TARN TARAN: Hundreds of farmers, under the leadership of Kisan Sangharsh Committee, on Monday blocked traffic, seeking an increase in the MSP of paddy. The farmers staged a dharna at Rasulpur village for more than five hours as a result of which traffic remained blocked. The farmers were addressed by Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the committee, besides other leaders. The leaders condemned the state and the Union government for not increasing the MPS of paddy. The leaders said the non-procurement of paddy till now had created great hardships.

The farmers lifted their dharna on an assurance from Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, that procurement would start soon.

BATHINDA: Vehicular traffic was diverted via link roads from the Bathinda-Barnala road as kisan unions blocked rail and road traffic near Rampura town between 12 noon and 3 p.m. as part of their statewide agitation over paddy procurement and compensation to drought-hit farmers.

However, traffic in other parts of the district was near normal as various kisan unions chose Rampura town for the “rasta roko” agitation. The farmers lay down on the Patiala-Bathinda railway track on the outskirts of Rampura town, near a level crossing on the Bathinda-Barnala main road.

The farmers raised slogans against the state and Central governments for their “indifferent” behaviour towards the problems of farmers.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, state general secretary of the BKU (E), said in a statement here on Monday that traffic was disrupted at various places in the state. He said by not increasing the MSP and not starting procurement by September 21, the Central Government had shown its anti-farmer face.

JALANDHAR: Farmers blocked rail traffic near Nakodar on the Jalandhar-Nakodar branch line. The departure of the Jalandhar bound DMU from Nakodar was delayed.

A report from Ludhiana said the Jammu-bound Malwa Express and the Amritsar-bound Dadar Express were delayed as the kisan union activists blocked the rail tracks at Sahnewal.

ROPAR: Farmers blocked traffic on the Ropar-Nagal road near the Charan Ganga bridge at Anandpur Sahib on Monday in support of their demands, including in the MSP of paddy.

Vehicular traffic remained disrupted for about an hour near the bridge.

Later, the farmers submitted a memorandum to the Tehsildar, Anandpur Sahib, regarding their demands and lifted the blockade.

KAPURTHALA: Thousands of activists of the Kirti Kisan Union on Monday blocked rail traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar railway track at the Dhilwan railway station, 16 km from here. The blockade continued for two hours.

The activists stopped the New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express at the Dhilwan railway station. They sat in dharna on the railway track. The train left for Amritsar two hours behind schedule after the dharna was lifted.

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