Protesting farm outfits in Punjab on Thursday decided to lift dharnas outside dealer-run petrol pumps owned by corporate houses, but said that sit-ins outside filling stations being directly run by companies will continue. The decision was taken by farmer leaders as they organised Thursday’s chakka jam at more than 200 places in Punjab on the call of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
As of Thursday, unions were sitting on dharnas at 97 petrol pumps belonging to two corporate houses across the state. As the day ended, 28 farmer unions ended dharnas at 23 petrol pumps, while Punjab’s largest farmer union — BKU (Ugrahan) — that is sitting on dharnas at 38 filling stations, announced that their sit-ins at dealer-based pumps will end by Friday afternoon.
Farmers on Thursday also vacated railway stations at 29 places in Punjab and now rail roko dharna continues at three places – the internal railway lines of Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo power plants and Jandiala Guru railway line on the outskirts of Amritsar.
Jagmohan Singh Dakaunda, General secretary of BKU(Dakaunda) and working committee member of AIKSCC, said, “We have vacated all railway platforms. At few places our members have shifted inside the waiting hall of railway stations while at most places, they are sitting 10 metres away from railway platforms, so that they cannot blame us for anything.”
Sources revealed that farmers are planning to now sit on vacant land which falls under railways and will observe how railways runs their operations. If they operate goods trains, they will have no objection, but if passenger trains start moving on tracks, they will be back on tracks, said farmer leaders.
Jagmohan said, “We have lifted dharnas from 23 petrol pumps of the corporates which are dealer based. We had a meeting with dealers after which we took this decision. Dharnas at rest of company-owned pumps will continue.”
Jhanda Singh, senior vice president of BKU(Ugrahan), said, “We will go by the decision of other farmer organisations. Our union will be having a formal meeting Friday morning and we will announce to lift dharnas from dealer-based petrol pumps from the dharna sites itself. We are yet to make a count as to how many pumps are dealer-based out of 38 pumps where our members are staging dharnas since October 1.”
However, dharnas at toll plazas, outside houses of 9 BJP leaders, private thermal plants will continue.
Shingara Singh Maan, president of BKU(Ugrahan)’s Bathinda unit, said, “We are not sitting on the railway line of Indian railways, but we have gheraoed Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo power plants and are sitting outside their gates. Their internal line is affected which is used to enter coal rakes inside the plant. Hence, railways have nothing to do with this blockade. It is a lame excuse to support corporates running these thermals.”
Harmeet Singh Kadian, president of BKU(Kadian), who was leading dharna at Ladhowal toll plaza in Ludhiana, said, “Not only farmers but our entire families are supporting us. It is a fight with corporate houses and Centre. It is really sad that in the name of farmers, Centre government has stopped goods trains in Punjab which has never ever happened in the past. This shows the diktat of Centre to impose laws on us to favour corporate houses.”
During the chakka jam protest Thurday, the national highways passing through Phillaur, Chowkimaan, Khanna in Ludhiana, Jeeda in Bathinda, Sunam, Lehragaga , Malerkotla, Barnala , Rampura and many other places were blocked. Residents were advised in advance not to travel on main roads from noon till 4 pm. However, traffic in inner city areas remained as normal.
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