Protesters squatted on railway tracks at 44 locations across Punjab and Haryana on Friday as part of the Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions protesting against agri laws, leading to disruption of rail traffic.
A railway spokesperson said four Shatabdi trains have been cancelled, 35 other passenger trains were detained and the movement of 40 goods trains was affected by the protests.
The 44 locations where train movement has been disrupted fall under the Delhi, Ambala and Ferozepur divisions of the railways.
“As of 11 am, kisan agitators are sitting at 44 locations. Total 35 passenger trains have been detained and 40 goods trains are affected so far. Four Shatabdi trains have been cancelled,” Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar said.
Bharat Bandh: Know What's Open and What's Closed
Farmers gathered at several national highways, key roads, and some railway tracks in Punjab and Haryana as part of their nationwide protest against the Centre's new agri laws.
According to the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the Bharat Bandh is being observed from 6 am to 6 pm to mark four months of the farmers' agitation at Delhi's three borders — Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri.
A heavy police force has been deployed in the two states as part of security measures, an official said.
The farmers have gathered at several highways and roads in the two states including in Bathinda, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala, Mohali, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Bhiwani districts.
A group of farmers who were holding a protest in Zirakpur and Kharar towns in Punjab, both on the outskirts of Chandigarh, said they were allowing ambulances and other emergency vehicles to pass.
Some of the protesters blocked the Ambala-Delhi highway near Ambala Cantt, police said.
While another group squatted on a railway track near Shahpur village, around five kilometers from Ambala Cantt, due to which all the trains running between Delhi and Saharanpur were stranded, railway officials said.
The farmers also blocked the Ambala-Rajpura Highway on the Haryana-Punjab border near Shambhu barrier, and the Ambala-Hisar Highway near Ambala City.
Blockades on various state highways were also reported in Naraingarh and Mullana in Haryana, police said.
The SKM, an umbrella body of protesting unions, appealed to protesting farmers to be peaceful and not get involved in any kind of illegitimate debate and conflict during the 'bandh'.
Farmer leaders have said road and rail transport will be blocked and claimed that markets will also remain closed. They also claimed that trade unions from organised and unorganised sectors, and transport and other associations too have extended support to the call for Bharat Bandh.
Rahul Gandhi sides with farmers on Bharat Bandh
The Congress leader expressed support for the 'Bharat Bandh' called by farmer unions protesting the three agri laws. In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said India's history shows that 'satyagraha' ends atrocities, injustice and arrogance. The movement should be in national interest and peaceful, the former Congress chief added.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee for the minimum support price on their crops.
Apart from repealing of three farm laws, the demands of protesting unions include cancellation of all police cases against farmers, withdrawal of electricity and pollution bills, and reduction in prices of diesel, petrol and gas.
So far, there have been 11 rounds of talks between the protesting unions and government, but the deadlock has continued as both sides have stuck to their stand.
In January, the government had offered to suspend the farm laws for 12-18 months, which was rejected by the farmer unions.