Gurdaspur, February 22
Nearly 400 farmers on Wednesday blocked the Amritsar-Pathankot railway track at the local railway station putting hundreds of passengers to inconvenience.
The protesters were demanding a legal guarantee on the wheat and paddy MSPs, withdrawal of cases registered against their colleagues during the agriculture laws stir and payment of sugarcane arrears. Yet another issue that cropped up was the amount of compensation that was being given to those farmers whose agricultural land was being acquired by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the proposed Delhi-Katra expressway. The farmers claimed that compensation that was being given was “on the lower side and needed to be substantially enhanced”.
The agriculturists were led by Sarwan Singh Pandher, a leader of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee.
The protest evoked strong reactions from the general public. “I fail to understand the logic of farm unions in blocking national highways and railway tracks. Why is the travelling public being harassed? Are we the ones who are going to take a decision on the demands of the farmers? What are they gaining by stopping trains? When will they understand that blocking rail and road traffic takes them nowhere,” said Mohan Singh, a traveller, who kept waiting at the Gurdaspur railway station for several hours.
He wanted to catch a train to Pathankot, but returned home after a railway official told him that the farmers were not relenting. There were many more like Mohan Singh who had to return home dejected.
SSP Harish Damaya said security arrangements were put in place in the morning itself. He said a SP-rank officer was in-charge of security.
Since early morning, scores of cops could be seen positioned at the road leading to the railway station.
SDM Amandeep Kaur Ghuman handled the negotiations on the part of the district administration. Batala SDM Shayari Bhandari, SP Prithipal Singh and DSP Sukhpal Singh Randhawa were also part of the negotiating team.
The protesters, despite the best efforts of the Amandeep Kaur-led team, seemed to be in no mood to relent. “It is a do-or-die battle now. The government is in no mood to listen to our grievances,” said a farmer.
A farm leader said he and his fellow protesters would meet Deputy Commissioner Himanshu Aggarwal before deciding on their future course of action.
Seema Sharma, Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur, reached the site and she along with the DC started confabulations with the farmers. Sources said she had agreed to re-route trains running on the Amritsar-Pathankot section till the impasse was broken.
Protest on rly tracks leaves passengers in lurch
Amritsar: Passengers of about four pairs of trains on Wednesday were an inconvenienced lot as the movement of trains on the Amritsar-Pathankot rail line was stalled here due to the blockade near Gurdaspur by farmer organisations.
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