Politics

Farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ Protest Intensifies: Rail Roko Planned Amidst Third Round of Talks

Amidst the ongoing stand-off at the Haryana and Punjab borders, the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest by farmers has escalated with the announcement of a ‘rail roko’ (stop trains) agitation in Punjab. The protest, supported by several major farmers’ unions, aims to amplify the demand for a minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural crops.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) and BKU Dakaunda (Dhaner faction) have jointly declared a rail blockade in Punjab on Thursday between 12 noon and 4 pm, with the support of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 37 farm unions. This move comes in solidarity with the ongoing protests against the alleged use of violence against farmers.

Numerous protest sites have been identified for the rail roko agitation, including locations near the Shambhu and Khanauri borders, Jethuke village in Bathinda, Moga, Mansa, Malaut, Valla railway crossing in Amritsar, Barnala, Sangrur, and Budhlada. The rail blockade is expected to disrupt train services on key routes, affecting the Amritsar-Jalandhar-Delhi line, the Mansa-Bathinda-Delhi line, Ludhiana-Ferozepur line, among others.

Simultaneously, discussions are underway between farmers’ leaders and three Union ministers – Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal, and Nityanand Rai – in Chandigarh for the third round of talks. Despite previous inconclusive meetings, both sides continue their efforts to find a resolution.

In New Delhi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda reportedly held discussions on addressing the farmers’ concerns, highlighting the government’s commitment to engage with the protesting farmers.

The tension at the Punjab-Haryana border persists, with clashes between protesters and security forces. Reports indicate intermittent shelling and the use of tear gas by security personnel to deter farmers’ attempts to breach barricades. Farmer leaders allege over 100 injuries among protesters, while police report injuries to 24 personnel during the clashes.

At the Shambhu border point near Ambala and the Data Singhwala-Khanauri border in Haryana’s Jind district, the stand-off continues. Despite efforts by farmers to advance towards the national capital, they remain over 200 km away from Delhi.

In response to the protests, multiple layers of barricades have been erected at Delhi’s Singhu and Tikri borders with Haryana, as well as at the Ghazipur border with Uttar Pradesh. Commuters face inconvenience due to road closures and heavy police presence, particularly at the Singhu border.

As the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest gains momentum with the rail roko agitation and ongoing talks between farmers and government representatives, the standoff underscores the persistent challenges in addressing farmers’ demands and finding a mutually acceptable solution.

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