Amid the nationwide farmers ‘rail roko’ protests center tightens security
On Thursday, many farmers and farm leaders observed the ‘rail roko’ protest to push the central government for accepting their demand of rolling back newly introduced farm laws. The protest announcement was made last week, by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha — an umbrella association of farmer unions. It said that the farm unions would be holding a nationwide peaceful rail blockade as part of its new strategy to take the protest movement to different parts of the country.
The agitation, which was held across the nation from 12 pm to 4 pm, was a peaceful assembly of farm law opponents. Bhartiya Kisan Union leader from Ambala Gulab Singh Manakpur emphasized, “Our protest will continue in a peaceful manner till the farm laws are repealed”, PTI reported.
Jagtar Singh Bajwa, spokesperson of the Kisan Andolan Committee, who spoke to ANI near the Ghazipur border reiterated that the ‘rail roko’ demonstration would be peaceful, and added that the demonstrators would try their best to avoid causing any inconvenience to the passengers. Their prime motive has been to unify the country with a common cause and to make the center hear their plea. “We will carry out a peaceful protest in the nationwide Rail Roko program on February 18, from 12 pm to 4 pm. We`ll offer refreshments to passengers to avoid inconvenience,” he said.
The protest was successfully observed in parts of the country including Punjab, Haryana Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The government tightened the security by deploying railway police and state forces, including 20 additional companies of RPSF troops across country as a precautionary move. The security was also heightened near Ghaziabad-Delhi border, where protestors have been protesting since November, blocking the highway to press their demand for revoking of new farm laws.
In Bangalore, many objected to the police intervention, which forbade people from holding even peaceful demonstrations. One of the farmer leaders said, “We are not being allowed by the police to hold rail roko. The police say no permission has been given for this protest. Why should we wait for the police to give permission when it was nationally announced by farm unions.”
Despite multiple rounds of talks between the BJP-led central government and farmer union leaders, the deadlock over the contested farm laws persists and neither of the sides seems to be ready to back down. The farmer leaders since the start have been demanding for complete removal of the three agricultural laws introduced last September, which the government denied. In its latest offer, the central government proposed an 18-month freeze on the three laws while keeping negotiations open. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the proposal stands, while farm leaders refused to accept the offer.