Farmers’ stir ends in Punjab, leaves Railways with loss of Rs 150 crore

Chandigarh

Farmers in Punjab today ended their week-long rail blockade that crippled train services and caused a loss of about Rs 150 crore to railways besides a huge loss to the state but decided to continue their protest in a different format.

The farmers, seeking higher compensation for the losses caused to the farm produce, decided to prevent ministers from entering villages and ‘gherao’ (picket) the residences of ministers, MLAs and other leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on October 23.

“We have called off our ‘Rail Roko’ agitation and started lifting blockade at different places in the state,” BKU Ekta (Dakunda) General Secretary Jagmohan Singh said about the stir which was launched on October 7.

However, BKU Ekta (Ugrahan) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri said their agitation against the state government would continue for non-acceptance of all of their demands including higher compensation for cotton crop loss.

“Our agitation will continue. We will now change the format of our agitation. We have decided to gherao residences of all the state ministers, ruling party MLAs and other party leaders on October 23,” he said.

He said they would launch a protest tomorrow, stop ministers from entering villages and show them black flags.

The agitation badly hit rail movement in Punjab with over 1,200 trains being affected because of protest in Ambala and Ferozepur divisions of railways, causing inconvenience to passengers and an estimated loss of about Rs 150 crore to the railways.

“It will take at least 10 days to restore full normalcy in train movement following the lifting of rail blockade by farmers today,” Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur Division, Anuj Prakash said today.

“A lot of things are involved like availability of rakes, crew, etc in fully restoring the train operations on limited track available,” he said.

PTI

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