Indian Railways suffers repeated disruption in train services in the North India in the recent past, due to various incidents among which Fire Accident at RRI/Itarsi and Farmers ‘Rail Roko’ agitation in Punjab being the two major ones hit the worst ever in the history of Indian Railways
Farmers’ ‘Rail Roko’ agitation in Punjab has affected the movement of more than 1000 trains in the last five days.
Describing the disruption in services as “worst ever” in the history of Railways in Punjab, officials said the movement of 884 trains was affected in Ferozepur and Ambala divisions of Railways.
“This is the worst ever farmers’ agitation which hit the train movement for five days in a row. I have never seen such an agitation which almost paralysed rail services,” Divisional Railway Manager, (Ferozepur Division), Anuj Prakash said.
In Ferozepur division, 336 trains have been affected while in Ambala division, services of 548 have been hit.
On Sunday, 73 trains were affected in Ferozepur division, officials said, of which 29, including mail/express trains, were cancelled because of the agitation, while 18 were diverted and 26 were short terminated or short originated.
“We will be getting cases registered against farmers wherever they have blocked tracks,” Mr. Prakash said.
So far, Railways have got cases registered at Jalandhar, Nakodar and Ferozepur under various sections of Railways Act including disruption in rail traffic.
Mr. Prakash however refused to comment on state government’s alleged failure in preventing the rail blockade but appealed to farmers to call off their agitation in the interest of people.
On Saturday, eight farmers’ outfits, which are spearheading the agitation, rejected the appeal of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to call off their protest and extended their agitation till tomorrow.
“Our protest will go on till October 12 and the next line of action will be decided after meeting the Punjab CM in Chandigarh,” BKU Etka (Dakunda) general secretary, Jagmohan Singh said on Sunday.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday invited protesting farmers to hold talks with the Chief Minister on October 12 for resolving their issues.
Mr. Badal had on Saturday said his government was ready to accept every genuine demand of the farmers and would leave no stone unturned to bail the distressed agriculturists out of severe crisis. The farmers’ protest has hit the movement of 336 trains in the last five days in Ferozepur division of Railways. Of these, 157 have been cancelled while rest of trains were diverted, short terminated or short originated.
In Ambala Division, out of 548 trains affected, 279 trains were cancelled, while the rest were partially cancelled or diverted.
Protesting farmers continued to block rail traffic at Mansa, Rampura, Shergarh, Pathrala, (Bathinda), Dagru (Moga), Mucchal (Amritsar) due to which, tracks including Ludhiana-Ferozepur, Ludhiana-Amritsar, Bathinda-Ambala, Ambala-Ferozepur were hit, railway officials said.
Among 29 trains which were cancelled on Sunday were Nangaldam-Amritsar Express, New Delhi-Amritsar Intercity, New Delhi-Jalandhar Intercity, Dehradun-Amritsar Express, Chandigarh- Amritsar Intercity, Shan-e-Punjab, Ferozepur Cantt-Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Amritsar-Gorakhpur Express and some passenger trains including Ludhiana-Ferozepur. Of those which were diverted were Tata Nagar-Jammu Tawi, Punjab Mail, Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi, Amritsar-Haridwar Jan Shatabadi, Amritsar- Mumbai, Delhi-Pathankot, Amritsar-Saharasa Garib Rath, Golden Temple Mail, Hirakund Express, Bathinda-Jammu Tawi, Punjab Mail and Moga-New Delhi Shatabdi.
Trains which were short terminated and short originated were Howrah-Amritsar Express, Amarpali Express, New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi, Chhattisgarh Express, Jansewa Express, Ferozepur-Chandigarh Express, Howrah- Amritsar Express, Durgiana Express, Ajmer-Amritsar Express, Golden Temple mail and Amritsar—Ajmer Express.
As many as eight farmers’ organizations, including BKU Ekta (Dakunda), BKU Ekta (Ugrahan), BKU (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union, are participating in the ‘Rail Roko’ agitation which began on Wednesday.
Initially, the agitation was for two days — October 7 and 8 but it was extended for two days till October 10, and extended yesterday for another two days till October 12.
SAD’s appeal to agitating farmers to call off their protest came even as the ruling part has accused them of playing politics over the peasants’ issues.
Agitating farmers have blamed SAD—BJP led state government for its “apathetic” attitude towards farmers’ genuine grievances.
They have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for farmers whose crop got damaged by whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labourers, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for Basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for Basmati PUSA 1121.
Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who commit suicide.
With regard to fire accident at RRI/Itarsi, Indian Railways has incurred a loss of about Rs 2000 Crore due to cancellation and abnormal late running of passenger trains, now the farmers protests in Punjab will further add to the fire, said a Railway Board official.