The Samyukt Kisan Morcha called for a protest over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, demanding Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's dismissal and arrest.

Rail_rokoRail roko/ Photo via Kisan Ekta Morcha
news Protest Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 08:49

Farmers squatted on rail tracks at several places on Monday morning as part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha's six-hour 'rail roko' protest over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, hampering train movement in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The stir affected 150 locations in the Northern Railway zone and hindered the running of 60 trains causing inconvenience to passengers who could be seen waiting for long hours with their baggage. In the North Western Railway (NWR) zone, rail traffic was affected in some sections in Rajasthan and Haryana with 18 trains cancelled, 10 partially cancelled and one diverted due to the protest.

Agitations were held at Punjab's Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Moga, Patiala and Ferozepur, and Haryana's Charkhi Dadri, Sonipat, Kurukshetra, Jind, Karnal and Hisar. In Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) workers halted the Amritsar-Delhi and the Jalandhar Express trains by staging a dharna on rail tracks.

Trains were halted at Meerut and Greater Noida's Dankaur stations by the protesters, BKU media in-charge Dharmendra Malik said. In Ghaziabad's Modinagar, farmers staged a demonstration in front of a goods train which had already reached its destination.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions spearheading the agitation against the Union government's Agri laws, had said, "To press for its demand for Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's dismissal and arrest, so that justice can be secured in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, SKM has announced a nation-wide Rail Roko programme." SKM had put out a call to stop rail traffic between 10 am and 4 pm.

On Monday, the SKM claimed that its leaders were detained and arrested at several places during the protest in which thousands of farmers peacefully participated. It warned that protests will be intensified further if "its demands for justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre are not met".

"In Uttar Pradesh, there were many detention of farmer leaders at numerous places by the UP Police. In Madhya Pradesh, the police arrested protestors at several places like Guna, Gwalior, Rewa, Bamaniya (in Jhabua) and other places," it said in a statement.

The SKM said protesters were also arrested in Kacheguda at Hyderabad in Telangana. Protesting farmers, including women, raised slogans against the BJP-led government and demanded Ajay Mishra's arrest. Security was deployed at rail stations in the wake of the protest. In Punjab, 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 Rajasthan, farmers held a protest on the tracks in Hanumangarh district and raised slogans against the Union and the Uttar Pradesh governments. In Jaipur, SKM members staged a protest at the entrance of the railway station. State joint secretary of SKM Sanjay Madhav said, "We have not been allowed to enter the Jaipur junction so we have started the dharna at the entrance."

The trains that have been affected in the Northern Railway zone include the Chandigarh-Ferozepur Express. Its scheduled departure from Ludhiana was 7 am, but has been stranded there due to a blockade in the Ferozpur-Ludhiana section, its chief public relation officer said. The New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express was halted near Shambu station due to blockades near Sahnewal and Rajpura. "About 25 passenger and short-distance trains have been cancelled," the officer said.

In Rajasthan, the agitation affected train movement in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar of the Bikaner division. A North Western Railway (NWR) spokesperson said rail traffic on Bhiwani-Rewari, Sirsa-Rewari, Loharu-Hisar, Suratgarh-Bathinda, Sirsa-Bathinda, Hanumangarh-Bathinda, Rohtak-Bhiwani, Rewari-Sadulpur, Hisar-Bathinda, Hanumangarh-Sadulpur and Sri Ganganagar-Rewari sections was affected.

Eighteen trains, including the Firozpur-Hanumangarh Special train, Ludhiana-Hisar Special train, Bathinda-Sriganganagar Special train, Bathinda-Lalgarh Special train, Phulera-Rewari Special train, Rewari-Jodhpur Special train, Ratangarh Churu special train and Churu-Bikaner special train, were cancelled on Monday, he said. Ten trains have been partially cancelled due to the stir.

The route of Ahmedabad-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra Special train has also been changed, the NWR spokesperson said, adding the train which departed from Ahmedabad on Saturday will run via Rewari-Delhi-Pathankot to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra.

A group of protesters 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. In West Bengal, those belonging to Left parties protested at some railway stations, while in Madhya Pradesh, farmers squatted on the tracks near Bamnia station in Jhabua. Demanding the arrest of Ajay Mishra, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher 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 and their driver. Farmers have claimed that the minister's son Ashish Mishra was in one of the vehicles, an allegation denied by him and the father. Ashish Mishra was arrested in the case on October 9.