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Punjab

Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 1:38 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 1:38 AM (IST)

Cane farmers block traffic for 5 hrs

Seek disbursal of Rs 700-crore dues; violate HC order on protests
Cane farmers block traffic for 5 hrs
On warpath: Members of the Pagri Sambhal Jatta, a farmer organisation, block the railway track during a protest near Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Malkiat Singh

Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur/Phagwara, Sept 12

Sugarcane farmers, awaiting disbursement of Rs 700-crore dues, blocked the rail and road traffic for five hours at the Bhangala railway station in Mukerian here on Wednesday.

Though the district administration and police of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur were aware of the protest since Tuesday, they only attempted to negotiate.

Nearly 2,000 farmers sat on the tracks and adjoining the Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway disrupting traffic as the administration and police remained mute spectators. The protest was in violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders.

When the Doaba Kisan Sangharsh Committee had planned a similar protest in Phagwara on November 16, 2017, the High Court had passed directions to the Kapurthala administration to ensure that there was no traffic disruption. In fact, all district administrations have earmarked specific dharna sites in their areas.

The rail traffic on Jammu-Pathankot-Jalandhar-Ludhiana rail section remained disrupted causing much inconvenience to the passengers aboard trains on the Jammu-Pathankot rail section. The road traffic was diverted, but commuters were harassed due to long detours.

Railway sources said several trains remained stranded at different railway stations. Phagwara Station Superintendent Gyan Chand said Jammu-bound Lohit Express remained stranded in Phagwara for one hour and 40 minutes, while Malwa Express got stuck near Bhangala Station. Swaraj Express train was diverted via Pathankot-Amritsar-Jalandhar section.

Kamalpreet Singh, convener of Pagri Sambhal Jatta, said, “We went ahead with the dharna after duly informing the administrations of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts.”

Hoshiarpur DC Isha Kalia said, “We tried to negotiate with them on Tuesday and assured them that a meeting will be arranged with higher officials, but they remained adamant.”

The farmers lifted the dharna after an assurance on behalf of the government by SSP J Elanchezhian and ADC Anupam Kler.

The farmers said they had given an ultimatum that their payments should be cleared by September 25 or they would hold another agitation. They added that they had also been assured of a meeting with the Chief Secretary in Chandigarh on September 17.

Farmers’ leader Salwinder Singh, “Our dues are pending for the past seven months. How will we pay our power bills, school fee of our children and meet our day-to-day expenses? When no one listens to us, we have to resort to such agitations.”

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