Protesting Indian farmers blockade railroad tracks
SONIPAT, INDIA (AP) – –
Thousands of protesting farmers blocked trains by sitting on railroad tracks in parts of northern India on Thursday to press their demand for the repeal of new agricultural reform laws.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or the Joint Farmers’ Front, organized four-hour blockades of trains at two dozen locations.
Protesters were seen sitting on railroad tracks in Hapur, Modinagar, Kurukshetra and several other places in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh states.
Railroad authorities halted train movement in the affected areas.
Authorities deployed thousands of security forces at railroad stations and tracks to prevent any violence.
The protesters carried banners and flags denouncing the laws approved by Parliament in September, which they say will leave them poorer and at the mercy of corporations.
The protests turned violent on January 26, India’s Republic Day, when a group of farmers riding tractors stormed the 17th century Red Fort in New Delhi.
Hundreds of police officers and scores of farmers were injured and one protester died.
Eleven rounds of talks between the farmers and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar have failed to produce any breakthroughs.
The government says the three laws are necessary to modernize Indian agriculture.
It has offered to delay their implementation for 18 months to deal with the farmers’ objections.
That’s not acceptable to the farmers, who are demanding their repeal.