Farm labourers’ body organises rail roko in Punjab, 26 trains hit

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A total of 26 trains — 19 under Ferozepur division and seven under Ambala division — were affected by a four-hour rail roko protest by Punjab farm labourers’ Sanjha Morcha on Sunday.

The rail roko was organised at nine locations in the state. These locations are in Amritsar, Mansa, Jethuke and Pathrala in Bathinda, Goleewala in Faridkot, Tapa area in Barnala, Ajitwal in Moga district, Chowkimaan in Jagraon constituency of Ludhiana district, and Phillaur in Jalandhar. The rail network in Malwa region was totally paralysed while the protest on Amritsar urban rail tracks and Phillaur hampered services on Delhi route. Trains on Ludhiana-Ferozepur rail line too remained affected, so were trains to go from Bathinda to Ganganagar.

Most of the trains were regulated after 4 pm, according to the office of divisional railway manager( DRM), Ambala. According to the office of DRM, Ferozepur division, a total of 14 trains got delayed while five were rescheduled.

The rail roko was from noon to 4 pm over pending demands of khet mazdoors, said Zora Singh Nasrali, president of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU). The rail roko was supported by BKU Ugrahan. “Many of the labourers/ farmers returned last night itself and now they are on tracks. I too came last evening only,” said Shingara Singh Maan, senior vice- president, BKU Ugrahan.

“Sanjha Morcha had a meeting with CM Charanjit Singh Channi on November 23. He did not give much assurance on our demands. Still, we waited for a few days and now did a rail roko,” said Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary, PKMU. Sewewala too came from Tikri border on Saturday.

Their demands include loan waiver from microfinance companies, five-marla plots to needy mazdoor families in villages, waiver of outstanding power bills, restoration of snapped power connections over non-payment of bills, a check on dummy auctions on panchayati land of villages meant for agriculture purposes. “One third of 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 mazdoor union leader.

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