The railways has deployed 20 additional companies of the RPSF across the country, with focus on Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, in the wake of the “rail roko” called on Thursday by farmer groups protesting against the Centre’s new agri laws.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of protesting farmer unions which is spearheading the protest, last week had announced the rail blockade to press for its demand to repeal the legislations.
Director General, Railway Protection Force, Arun Kumar on Wednesday said, “I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. We will be liaisoning with district administrations and will have a control room in place.”
“We will gather intelligence. States such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and some other areas will be our focus. We have deployed 20 companies (around 20,000 personnel) of the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) in these areas,” he said.
“We want to persuade them to not cause inconvenience for passengers. We have a four-hour window and we want it (rail roko) to get over peacefully,” Kumar said. The SKM had said that the rail blockade will held across the country from 12 pm to 4 pm.
The announcement came amid the ongoing protests against the laws at Delhi’s borders by farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and ‘mahapanchayats’ that are being organised in these states to garner support for the movement.
On Tuesday, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni had said that farmer unions will hold meetings in poll-bound West Bengal as well and indicated that they will ask people there not to vote for those who are “snatching our livelihood”.
Farmers are protesting against the the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.