Activists from the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMC), a leading farmers’ organization, blocked railway lines across Punjab on Thursday to protest alleged insufficient land compensation for the Bharatmala project. The incident escalated following reports of a police officer slapping a woman during a related demonstration in Gurdaspur district.
Rail services between Amritsar and Delhi were disrupted from 12:30 PM, as protestors occupied train tracks at seven different locations, including Tarn Taran, Jalandhar Cantt, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Moga, and Amritsar. Gurbachan Singh Chabba, KMC spokesperson, criticized the government’s acquisition process, stating that the land was taken without offering farmers satisfactory compensation. The leading figure in these protests, Sarwan Singh Pandher, led the rally at Devidaspura village, located 20 kilometers from Amritsar.
Furthermore, Chabba emphasized that police used force against peaceful protestors, citing an incident where a woman farmer was reportedly slapped by a policeman in Gurdaspur. This incident was caught on video and has since been widely shared on social media. In a powerful rebuke, Chabba decried the government’s strong-arm tactics, condemning the “highhanded attitude” shown in evicting farmers from their land. He also reported that police charged at farmers in Cheema Khudi village, who were peacefully protesting the acquisition of their land for a national highway project. The KMC later reported an agreement to pause further land acquisitions in Gurdaspur until a planned meeting on May 24th between the farmers and government officials. They also announced that arbitration camps would be set up to address farmer grievances promptly, following a meeting attended by SSP Amritsar (Rural) Satinder Singh.