Farmers besiege Hubballi station

Farmers besiege Hubballi station

Farmers besiege Hubballi station

The Hubballi railway station came to a total standstill for more than seven hours on Tuesday, as hundreds of farmers from Malaprabha command area staged a rail roko demanding speedy diversion of water from Mahadayi basin to Malaprabha river and measures for farmers’ welfare.

Even after the prolonged negotiation between agitators and authorities, the protest continued till 8 pm. Police resorted to mild lathi charge to disperse the protesters. They detained around 20 protesters and shifted them out in buses. Stones were thrown on four buses, while three policemen received injuries.

No train could move out of the railway station after 1 pm and no train arrived from other places. The services of more than 15 trains, including seven long-distance ones, were affected. Thousands of passengers heading towards various destinations experienced serious inconvenience. Some trains including those heading to Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru were delayed, while a few were partially cancelled. The railway station premises was full of stranded passengers, while farmers staged a protest on the tracks.

Police had taken steps to prevent the arrival of large number of farmers, by stopping their vehicles on the outskirts of the City and by making around 200 preventive arrests at various places in the region.

However, the ‘rail bandh’ intensified as farmers from Nargund, Navalgund, Ramadurga, Saundatti, Badami, Hubballi, Dharwad and other taluks joined the protest in different groups, after a small group of farmers, including women, started the rail roko in front of  Amaravati Express at around 1 pm. Meanwhile, a group of farmers staged a rasta roko at Channamma Circle in the City and blocked vehicular movement for more than two hours.

The farmers demanded the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the inter-state dispute over sharing of the Mahadayi river water and welfare measures for farmers, including loan waiver. Earlier in the day, rail roko was staged in Dharwad. Protesters stopped two trains near Gadag Road level-crossing.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah assured the agitating farmers over telephone that a meeting of farmers’ leaders and people’s representatives of the region would be called on April 1 in Bengaluru, to discuss about loan waiver, taking a delegation to New Delhi.

Though a group of agitating farmers relented after the chief minister’s assurance, some farmers continued the protest, demanding that the Centre give a clear assurance. At last, police resorted to a mild lathi charge to disperse the crowd.

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