Rail traffic will continue to be hit as farmers on Thursday decided to extend their rail roko for two more days, while also planning to block roads in a few districts of Punjab. Around 75 trains were cancelled on Thursday, the second day of the farmers’ protest, while 24 had to be diverted. Over 350 farmers were rounded up at Lehragaga, Nawanshahr and Ferozepur during the day.
The protesters are demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for loss to their cotton crop and minimum support prices (MSP) of Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000 per quintal for ‘1509’ and ‘1121’ varieties of Basmati respectively, besides waiver of debts and additional relief packages.
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While the farmers on Thursday protested at only six sites, as opposed to 13 places on Wednesday, they however blocked important rail lines thus leading to the larger number of trains being cancelled. The protesters blocked the main Amritsar- Delhi line, Bathinda-Ambala line, Bikaner-Bathinda, Bathinda- Rewari and Ludhiana- Ferozepur lines among others.
Of the 75 cancelled trains, 52 were passenger trains while 23 were mail express trains. Trains were stopped at Dagru village in Moga, at three places in Bathinda while the Delhi- Bathinda route was disrupted at Mansa. At Lehragaga, over 200 farmers were rounded up near rail tracks but another group of farmers blocked the Lehragaga- Jakhal road.
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Commuters continued to feel the heat over the protests. There were a large number of passengers who got their reservations cancelled due to the diversion of trains.“We waited for over three hours, but now we have cancelled our ticket,” said a passenger.