Lukewarm response to farmers’ ‘Rail Roko’ in Karnataka

Police detain members of farmer organisation at Yeshwanthpur Railway Station during a four-hour Rail Roko Andolan across the country, called by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), as part of their agitation against Centre farm reform laws, in Bengaluru on Thursday 18th February 2021.

Bengaluru, (Asian independent)¬†Barring a few stray incidents of stone pelting on moving trains, the nationwide ‘Rail Roko’ call given by the farmers on Thursday evoked lukewarm response in Karnataka with the police detaining farmer leaders across the BJP ruled state, stopping them from entering the railway station premises.

The ongoing farmers’ protest on the borders of Delhi against the three Central farm laws has been going on for over three months now. The farmers have held 11 rounds of talks with the Centre, but they have failed to break the deadlock with the farmers sticking to their main demand of repealing the three farm laws.

On Thursday, the Karnataka police detained several farmer leaders from outside the railway stations in Bengaluru, Belagavi, Raichur, Hubballi and Kalaburgi districts. Even as the farmer leaders gathered in front of various railway stations in the state, the police prevented them from entering the station premises by putting up barricades.

Several farmer leaders, including state president of the Confederation of Farmers’ Associations, Kuruburu Shanthakumar, were detained along with their supporters from outside the Yeshwantpur railway station in Bengaluru after Shanthakumar declared that farmers had gathered there in support of the protesting farmers in Delhi.

“We will support them in their endeavour,” he said before being detained by the police.

Although there were reports from other parts of the state where farmers tried to break the police security ring in front of various railway stations, they were eventually overpowered by the police.

“When we arrived at the railway station, we were not allowed to demonstrate by the police. Why should we wait for the police to give us permission when the ‘Rail Roko’ was nationally announced by the farmers’ unions,” a farmer leader at Raichur railway station said.

Meanwhile, there were reports about stray incidents of stone pelting on moving trains from some parts of the state. One such incident was officially reported near the Kengeri railway station on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

However, the authorities are tightlipped on the matter, stating that it is yet not known if the protesters were behind the incident, or some anti-social elements were involved.

The Bengaluru railway police have registered a case and investigation is underway.