Farmer’s groups in Punjab are starting a ‘Rail Roko’ (Stop Trains) campaign from today in order to protest the new anti-farmer agriculture Bills introduced in Parliament. As a result, all trains which go to and from Punjab have been suspended by the Indian Railways for two days, ie, from September 24 to September 26.
The three anti-farmer ordinances brought in during the lockdown have been introduced in the parliament in spite of nation-wide protests by farmers, strong opposition in the parliament, and notably the resignation of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaul Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a long-standing ally of the BJP.
The agriculture bills have been criticised for being anti-farmer and pro-agricultural business. Farmers have raised the issue of the lack of guarantee of MSP, the destruction of the APMC mandi ecosystem, the disadvantage of the small and marginal farmer in an open-market and unfair competition, exploitation under contract farming, and the issue of hoarding and food security.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti announced that trains will not be allowed to run in Punjab during these two days in order to intensify the protest against the agricultural bills.
The administrative inconvenience and hurdle to travel and economic activities that this ‘Rail Roko’ campaign and the stoppage of trains can cause will perhaps finally force the government to take cognizance of the farmer’s protests. Until now, their demands have gone unheeded by the government, with the PM attempting to pacify them with empty promises that MSP will not be harmed.
All farmers’ unions in Punjab have already announced a massive strike and protest on September 25 against the anti-farmer bills.
The central government introduced these bills in the Lok Sabha on Monday. These are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.