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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Services of 17 trains hit as farm labourers block tracks in Punjab

The agitation is from 12 noon to 4 pm over pending demands of khet mazdoors, said Zora Singh Nasrali, president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU).

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: December 12, 2021 8:19:08 pm
During protest at Mansa railway station (Twitter/Raakhi Jagga)

Seven trains were halted midway in Bathinda, Barnala and Sangrur areas under the Ambala Division of railways and ten trains were delayed under the Ferozepur Division following a rail roko called by Sanjha Morcha, a collective of farm labourers in Punjab, that lasted four hours on Sunday. The stir was organised seeking waiver of loans taken from microfinance companies and restoration of snapped power connections over non-payment of bills, among other demands.

The agitation, which paralysed the state’s railway network, was organised at nine different locations including Amritsar, Mansa, Jethuke and Pathrala in Bathinda, Goleewala in Faridkot, Tapa in Barnala, Ajitwal in Moga, Chowkimaan in Ludhiana’s Jagraon constituency and Phillaur in Jalandhar, completely disrupting rail services in Malwa Punjab, while the stir in Amritsar Urban and Phillaur hampered services on the Delhi route. It also affected the Ludhiana- Ferozepur line as well as services from Bathinda to Ganganagar. Most of the trains were back in service after 4 pm, the office of the Ambala Divisional Railway Manager informed.

Zora Singh Nasrali, president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU), said earlier on Sunday that the protest would be from 12 noon to 4 pm over pending demands of khet mazdoors. BKU Ugrahan – the largest union of farmers in Punjab – also supported the agitation. “Many of the labourers and farmers returned last night itself and now they are on the tracks. I, too, arrived last evening,” Shingara Singh Maan, senior vice-president of BKU Ugrahan, said earlier in the day.

“Sanjha Morcha had a meeting with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on November 23. He had not given much assurance over our demands, still we waited for a few days,” said Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of PKMU, who arrived from the Tikri border on Saturday evening.

The labourers also sought allocation of five-marla plots to needy mazdoor families in villages, waiver of outstanding power bills and a check on dummy auctions of panchayati land meant for agriculture purposes.

“One-third of the land is reserved for Dalits but dummy candidates are fielded by landlords, thus depriving Dalit families of their rights to cultivate this land,” said Tarsem Peter, a union leader. “We had highlighted the case of a dummy auction in Gurdaspur, but the chief minister hasn’t cancelled the auction,” he added.

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