24/09/2020 3:32 PM IST

Punjab: Farmers Organise 'Rail Roko' Agitation To Protest Against Farm Bills

The Rajya Sabha passed the bills on Sunday amid protests by Opposition members

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Farmers raise slogans during a protest at Beas Bridge against the three agriculture ordinances on September 14, 2020 in Amritsar.

Farmers in Punjab on Thursday began a three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation to protest against the three farm bills which were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. 

Railway authorities said 14 pairs of special trains will remain suspended from 24 to 26 September and officials told PTI that the decision was taken keeping in mind the safety of passengers and protection of railway property from any damage.

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The call for the ‘rail roko’ agitation was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and later, different farmers’ outfits also extended their support.

Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu said that they have appealed to representatives of political parties, ministers, MPs and MLAs not to take part in the farmers’ agitation.

The representatives of the committee, according to PTI, said they were getting support from several sections including government employees and labourers.

Farmers and opposition parties have been protesting against the bills — The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 — since they were introduced in the Lok Sabha. 

The Rajya Sabha passed the bills on Sunday amid protests by Opposition members who demanded that the bills be sent to a select committee. 

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad met President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday to submit a memorandum opposing the farm bills and urged him to not give his assent. 

Azad said he requested the President to return the bills, and only give his assent after they have been passed after following proper rules and procedures.

The government, according to PTI, has claimed that these bills are to ensure that farmers get better prices for their produce without being subject to the regulations of mandis.

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the MSP mechanism for farmers will continue. The proposed laws would not encroach upon the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts of the states, and will increase competition and promote private investment which will help in the development of farm infrastructure and generate employment, the minister has said.

The proposed legislations will open more choices for farmers, reduce marketing costs, and help them get better prices, he said.

(With PTI inputs)