Farmers in India stage sit-in protest on rail tracks to highlight demands

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-06 00:19:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NEW DELHI, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of farmers in northern Indian state of Punjab have occupied railway tracks to protest alleged official apathy, demanding implementation of recommendations from a government nominated commission, officials said Tuesday.

The farmers including women took to Amritsar-Delhi railway line at Jandiala town, thereby blocking the rail traffic.

"We are demanding full debt waivers as promised by the government in run up to the local Assembly elections," Kartar Singh, a protesting farmer, said.

"The political parties are making promises and then forget once the elections are over. We demand government should implement Swaminathan Commission recommendations."

Swaminathan Commission nominated by the federal government in 2004 was tasked with finding solutions to problems faced by farmers in India. The commission recommended farmers should be paid one and a half times the cost of production for what they produce and the market selling price should be fixed keeping this in mind.

The commission was headed by an Indian agricultural scientist renowned for his leading role in India's Green Revolution.

The blocking of railway tracks, according to officials, have led to cancellation of around 25 trains, besides diversion of many others on the railway line.

An Indian railways official posted in Amritsar station said, "Because of the situation passengers are stranded on railway stations."

The farmers in the state have been on protest for the past four days.

"First farmers staged sit-in protest outside Tarn Taran Deputy Commissioner's office, then they voluntarily courting arrests but today hundreds of farmers took to the railway tracks to highlight their demands," Singh said.

The agitation is led by a farmers' union - Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC).

Reports said the railway tracks have been covered with makeshift tents and the protestors are sitting beneath them. The farmer leaders are addressing the fellow farmers at regular intervals.

"Farmers have been committing suicide as the state government has not waived off their entire loans," said Satnam Singh Pannu, KMSC leader in Punjab. "We are demanding full loan waivers of farmers and impounding of land and arrest of farmers should be stopped."

Pannu said they would continue their protests until their demands were met.

Meanwhile, officials said they were in touch with farmers to end their protest.

Authorities have also deployed police force to control the agitating farmers in case of violence.

Agriculture has suffered a huge set back in recent years in India due to unfavourable weather conditions, such as drought and flooding.