Hundreds of activists of farmers' outfit Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMC) on Thursday squatted on railway tracks and blocked rail traffic at a number of places in Punjab over alleged inadequate compensation for the land acquired for the Bharatmala project.
The KMC said it also registered its protest against the alleged slapping of a woman by a policeman in Gurdaspur district on Wednesday when farmers were protesting over the compensation issue.
Railway officials said incoming and outgoing trains running between Amritsar and Delhi were affected for a few hours after 12.30 pm in the wake of the farmers' protest. Rail traffic was also affected a few other places in the state
KMC spokesperson Gurbachan Singh Chabba said the farmers were protesting on the compensation issue in connection with the acquisition of land for the Bharatmala project and the alleged high handedness of the police in Gurdaspur district against the farmers.
He said the government was acquiring the land but not paying adequate compensation as desired by farmers.
The protest at Devidaspura village, around 20 kilometres from Amritsar, was led by KMC leader Sarwan Singh Pandher.
Chabba said farmers squatted on railway tracks at seven points in the state for a few hours after 1 pm on Thursday.
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He said Tarn Taran, Jalandhar Cantt, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Moga and Amritsar were the points where the farmers held protests.
Chabba also alleged that a woman farmer was slapped by a policeman in Gurdaspur on Wednesday and accused the police of using force against protesting farmers.
A video of the slapping incident has also gone viral on social media.
"The highhanded attitude of the government and its police which applied force to uproot the farmers from their agriculture land is condemnable," Chabba said.
He alleged that police cane charged farmers who were protesting peacefully against the government for acquiring their farmlands for the expansion/construction of the Delhi-Katra national highway. He said the incident occurred at Cheema Khudi village in Gurdaspur.
Later in the evening, the KMC, in a statement, said during a meeting between farmers and state government officials at Devidaspura, it was assured that arbitration camps will be organized to sort out the issues of the farmers at the earliest. SSP Amritsar (Rural) Satinder Singh attended the meeting.
A meeting between the farmers and senior officials of the state government has been fixed for May 24. No government official would move ahead to acquire the agricultural land of farmers in Gurdaspur district till then, the farmers' outfit said.
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