Farmer unions to stage 4-hour nationwide 'rail roko' on Feb 18
Protesting farmers Wednesday announced a four-hour nationwide rail blockade on February 18 as they renewed their strategy to intensify their agitation, which also included a candle march on February 14 in the memory of those killed in the 2019 Pulwama terrorist attack.
In a statement, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the protest, also said toll collection will not be allowed in Rajasthan from February 12 as part of their week-long protest strategy.
The SKM said in the statement that in a meeting on Wednesday farmer unions decided to escalate their agitation.
"There will be a 'rail roko' programme across the country from 12 pm to 4 pm on February 18," the SKM said.
Earlier this month, the protesting farmers had observed a three-hour road blockade to press their demand of repealing the three laws.
SKM leader Darshan Pal said candle marches, Mashaal Juloos' (torch marches) and other programmes will be held across the country on February 14 in respect of the sacrifices of the 40 CRPF personnel who were killed in a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14, 2019.
He said the farmers also will hold events in a show of solidarity on the birth anniversary of Sir Chhotu Ram -- who was one of the most prominent pre-partition farmer leaders -- on February 16.
The announcements by the protesting unions comes on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government and Parliament have great respect for farmers who are voicing their views on the three farm laws.
The prime minister made it clear that those who want to continue with the old agriculture marketing system can continue doing so.
Replying in Lok Sabha to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Modi staunchly defended the three contentious farms laws and attacked the opposition for "misleading" farmers, saying those who are disrupting the House are doing so as per a "well-planned strategy" as they are unable to digest that people can see the truth.
"Through their games, the trust of the people can never be won," he said, amidst protests by the opposition members.