Twenty-two trains have been cancelled as farmers went continued their rail roko (blockade) agitation in Punjab for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

The Samjhauta Express, a ‘friendship train’ between India and Pakistan, was also halted, leaving passengers stranded at Wagah station in Pakistan.

The Indian authorities had requested the train to be halted amid security concerns as the Delhi-Attari train ferrying passengers to the border station could not reach its destination due to the farmers’ stir.

No violence was reported from the Ferozepur-based Northern Railway division, but travel plans of commuters were thrown out of gear.

Stations wore a deserted look as passengers were forced to opt for buses and taxis with several trains being diverted and terminated before their destinations.

The 22 trains cancelled on Thursday include those linking Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ferozepur to the country capital New Delhi, the state’s capital Chandigarh, and the neighboring states of Rajasthan and Bihar.

Help from government

Not one train left Amritsar on Thursday as the farmers blocked traffic on the Amritsar-Delhi section at Muchhal village. The Amritsar deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat led a team to initiate talks with the protesters but in vain.

The agitating farmers, who refused to lift the blockades despite the SAD-BJP government’s appeals, are demanding compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre for loss to their cotton crop due to the whitefly attack.

The protesters have also been demanding Rs 4,500 minimum support price (MSP) per quintal for the ‘1509’ basmati variety, and Rs 5,000 for the ‘1121’ variety, besides waiver of debts and additional relief package of Rs 5 lakh to economically weaker families.

Scores arrested

Meanwhile in Bathinda more than 150 farmers were arrested when they were going to join other protesters at Rampura town railway track.

The district police set up special check posts across Rampura area to restrict farmers’ movement.

Reports said the farmers coming from Rampura Phul, Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda were arrested and taken to different police stations.

Protests were on at the Bathinda-Ambala railway track at Rampura town, the Bathinda-Bikaner track at village Pathrala, and the Bathinda-Mansa-Delhi railway track at Shergarh village till last reports came in.

Courtesy Hindustan Times