Farmers block trains across India, demand union minister’s removal over farmers’ killing

Pressing for Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s dismissal and arrest over farmers’ killings in Lakhimpur in Uttar Pradesh, in which his son Ashish Mishra has been arrested, farmers blocked trains across the country, as the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions has called for a six-hour-long nationwide ”Rail roko” agitation today.

Farmers in Punjab squatted on rail tracks on Monday morning and the protests began at 10 am today at 20 places in 11 districts of Punjab.

“This (rail roko) will be take place at different places in different districts. The people there, all over the country know where we have to stop the train. Government of India has not spoken to us yet,” said farmer leader Rakesh Tikait.

Northern Railway has informed that 30 locations have been affected and eight trains have been regulated following the rail roko protests.

According to railway officials, four sections of the Ferozepur division were blocked by the farmers.

The Ferozepur-Fazilka section in Ferozepur city and the Ferozepur-Ludhiana section at Ajitwal in Moga were affected, the official said told reporters. As many as 13 express trains and three passenger trains were halted at stations falling under the Ambala railway division.

Meanwhile, Lucknow police said that the actions will be taken against those participating in the rail roko andolan, adding that the draconian National Security Act will be invoked against those trying to disrupt normalcy.

Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish, has been arrested in the case, but the farmers’ body says that as long as the minister is in the government justice cannot be secured in the matter. Eight people, including four farmers and one journalist, were killed when a car belonging to the minister ran over them on October 3.

The BJP has rallied behind the Union Minister, while the Opposition has targetted the government for the violence against farmers. Last week, Rahul Gandhi-led Congress delegation urged President Ram Nath Kovind to sack the minister whose son is accused of mowing down protesting farmers in UP. The President, in turn, has said he will speak to the government over the issue.

In a statement, the SKM said “protests will only be intensified until justice is secured” in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.

Six men — Union MoS Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra and his associates Luvkush Pandey, Ashish Pandey, Ankit Das, Shekhar Bharti and Lateef — have been arrested in the case.