UP cane growers stop trains, damage rail tracks
Lucknow: Agitated over the sugarcane prices suggested by the government, hundreds of farmers took to the streets Monday, damaged railway tracks, stopped trains, blocked highways and closed shops in parts of western Uttar Pradesh, police said.
Irate farmers removed fish plates and damaged railway tracks near Bawli railway station in Baghpat district, some 400 km from Lucknow, while those in Meerut and Saharanpur districts stopped trains and disrupted vehicular traffic along busy roads, police added.
"Demonstrations near Bawli started early Monday. Hundreds of farmers sat on the railway tracks and even damaged these," Baghpat Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar said over phone.
"Additional security personnel have been deployed in Baghpat after the protests," Kumar added.
Protesters also stopped trains in Meerut, about 450 km from Lucknow, and disrupted traffic in Dauraula, Sardhana and Partapur towns.
"Farmers stopped several trains, including Shalimar Express, Delhi-Muzaffarnagar Express and Meerut-Delhi Passenger at Meerut," said government railway police (GRP) inspector SK Rana.
The farmers were also assisted by Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) workers in blocking the Delhi-Saharanpur highway and disrupting traffic in districts such as Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr, Amroha and Saharanpur.
In these districts, demonstrators forcibly closed markets, raised slogans denouncing the central government, and burnt effigies of union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
The central government has announced a price of Rs.129.85 per quintal for sugarcane during the 2009-10 crushing season under the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) system, while the State Advisory Price (SAP) has been set between Rs.165 and Rs.170 per quintal.
In case a state government fixes SAP higher than FRP, it will have to pay the difference.
Farmers want Rs.280 per quintal for their produce.
RLD chief Ajit Singh has already said opposition parties would not allow the government to pass the pending FRP Ordinance in parliament, and that his supporters will lay siege to Parliament House Nov 19, when the winter session is scheduled to start.