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22 trains cancelled, 24 diverted as thousands of Punjab farmers lay siege to railway tracks

Thousands of farmers, labourers and women under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) on Monday blocked Amritsar-Delhi rail line at Jandiala town, 20 kms from the district headquarters, continuing their protest of ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ on fourth day.

The protesters sat on the tracks at 1:30 pm disrupting the traffic on Amritsar-Delhi route, forcing cancellation of as many as 22 trains and diversion of 24. Thousands of passengers were left stranded.

Director of Amritsar railway station Amrit Singh said, “We have cancelled 22 trains while 24 trains were diverted via Amritsar-Tarn Taran-Beas and Jalandhar-Mukerian-Pathankot routes. Besides this, eight trains have been short-terminated till Beas railway station and six trains have been short-originated from Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Beas railway stations.”

Major trains affecting the region that have been cancelled by Northern Railway include Amritsar-Nangal Dam (14505), Amritsar-Chandigarh (12412), Chandigarh-Amritsar (12241), Amritsar-Hisar (54602) and Ludhiana-Ambala (64524). The Amritsar-Chandigarh (12412) train was cancelled for Tuesday.

Six of the nine trains diverted via other routes include Delhi-Pathankot (22429), AmritsarNanded (12422), Amritsar-Chhindwara Junction (18238), Amritsar-New Delhi (12030), Amritsar-Howrah (13006) and Jammu Tawi-Tatanagar Junction (18102).

Meanwhile, New Delhi-Amritsar (12497/98) and Saharsa-Amritsar (15531/32) were short-terminated at Beas, 99 kms from here.

Earlier, the protesters were on a sit-in outside the Tarn Taran deputy commissioner office over their various demands since March 1. They had been asking the state government to either meet their demands or arrest them.

The protestors flayed the Centre and Punjab government for their ‘unkept promises’. State president, KMSC, Satnam Singh Pannu said farmers have been committing suicide as the state government has not waived off their entire loan. Farmers are receiving notices of ‘kurki’ from many banks and even many of them are being arrested, he alleged.

The protesters demanded that full loan of farmers and labourers should be immediately waived off. ‘Kurkis’ of land and arrest of farmers should be stopped, blank cheques taken by banks and commission agents from farmers for giving them loans should be returned, payment for sugarcane crop with 15 per cent interest should be released, cutting electricity tariff to Rs 1 per unit and pending electricity bills of labourers should be waived off, were their other demands.

“The government should arrest us or give us assurance to meet all our demands or else we will continue the stir,” said Pannu.

Deputy commissioner (DC), Amritsar, Shivdular Singh Dhillon, said the officers of the district administration were negotiating with the farmers.

“Our talk with the farmers is going on to lift the protest,” he added.

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