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May 21, 2024

Farmers Suspend ‘Rail Roko’ Protest in Patiala, Shift Focus to BJP Leaders’ Residences

Farmers have announced the suspension of their month-long ‘rail roko’ protest at Shambhu railway station in Patiala, Punjab. This move comes as part of their ongoing struggle for various demands, including the release of three farmers arrested by Haryana Police during the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protests at the Shambhu border.

The protesting farmers, united under the banners of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, had been occupying the rail tracks at Shambhu railway station since April 17. Their primary demand has been the release of the detained farmers, as well as pressing the central government for a legal guarantee on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops, among other issues.

Despite their march to Delhi being halted by security forces on February 13, the farmers have remained steadfast at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points. Their resilience highlights the depth of their commitment to their cause.

On Monday, farmer leader Surjit Singh Phool announced the decision to suspend the ‘rail roko’ agitation in Patiala. He stated that the focus of the protest would now shift to ‘gherao’ the residences of BJP leaders in Punjab and Haryana. This strategy aims to continue the pressure on the government for the release of the arrested farmers and to address their broader demands.

Phool also mentioned that the farmers plan to hold significant conferences on May 22. This date marks the 100th day of their ongoing agitation at Shambhu, Khanauri, Dabwali, and Ratanpura. These conferences are expected to bring further attention to their cause and consolidate support.

The suspension of the ‘rail roko’ protest is expected to ease the disruption in rail services in the region, providing relief to commuters who have been affected by the month-long blockade. However, the shift in protest tactics indicates that the farmers’ movement is far from over. By targeting the residences of BJP leaders, the farmers hope to exert direct pressure on those in power.

The ‘Delhi Chalo’ march and the subsequent protests have been pivotal in the farmers’ campaign. These actions underscore the farmers’ demands for a legally guaranteed MSP and highlight their broader grievances with agricultural policies. The detainment of the three farmers has been a significant point of contention, galvanizing the community and drawing widespread support.

As the farmers prepare for their next phase of protest, the central government faces increasing pressure to address their demands. The decision to suspend the rail blockade and focus on direct actions against political leaders signifies a strategic shift that could impact the political landscape in Punjab and Haryana.

The upcoming conferences on May 22 are likely to be a critical juncture for the farmers’ movement. These gatherings will not only commemorate 100 days of sustained protest but will also serve as a platform to rally further support and plan future actions.

In summary, while the suspension of the ‘rail roko’ protest may temporarily alleviate some logistical challenges, the farmers’ determination to achieve their demands remains undeterred. Their strategic pivot to targeting BJP leaders’ residences marks a new phase in their ongoing struggle, reflecting their adaptability and resolve to continue their fight for justice and fair agricultural policies.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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