Farmers’ groups in Punjab began a three-day “rail roko [stop trains]” agitation from Thursday against the central government’s farm bills that were passed in Parliament on September 20, reported Deccan Herald.

In Haryana, the police used water cannons to stop the protestors from going to Delhi. After this, Haryana Youth Congress activists dispersed, but workers from Punjab’s Lok Insaf Party sat on a road on the inter-state border near Ambala, according to Hindustan Times.

In anticipation of the protests, special passenger trains operating from the Ferozepur division in Punjab were cancelled or partially stopped. The Amritsar-Haridwar train will be cancelled on Friday and Saturday and the New Delhi-Jammu Tawi Express from Thursday to Saturday.

The Sachkhand Express, which runs between Nanded city in Maharashtra and Amritsar and the Shaheed Express running between Amritsar and Jaynagar in Bihar were also suspended, according to PTI. Unidentified Railway officials told the news agency that 14 pairs of special trains will remain suspended till September 26.

Train No. 02904, earlier scheduled to run from Amritsar, will now begin its journey from Ambala between Thursday and Saturday. The Mumbai Central-Amritsar train arriving on Thursday will be rerouted to Ludhiana and it will stop at Ambala on Friday and Saturday.

The police in Amritsar banned gatherings with over four people, under Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, till September 27.

The three-day protest was announced by Punjab’s Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee General Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher last week. Farmer group leaders in Haryana also backed the call and said that they will block rail tracks and roads on Friday to protest against the bills, according to Hindustan Times. The groups added that they were holding meetings with commission agents, transporters and shopkeepers and asking them to keep their shops shut from 10 am to 4 pm. They also said that mandis in the state would remain closed on Friday.

The Aam Aadmi Party and Congress also staged a protest near the Takht Damdama Sahib gurdwara in Talwandi Sabo, ahead of Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s visit,

AAP MLA Baljinder Kaur hit out at the Akalis for continuing to be a part of the National Democratic Alliance. “As the entire farming and trading community is up against the Centre on the bills, the Akalis indulged in political gains,” she said. “They supported the bill openly but the widespread protest by farmers forced them to oppose the bills superficially. The Akalis are still partners of the National Democratic Alliance and their dual political role has been exposed.”

Sukhbir Badal had opposed the bills in the Lok Sabha after protests by the farmers in Punjab last week. Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the Union Cabinet on Thursday in protest against the bills.

The Congress also began its nationwide agitation against the farm bills on Thursday. The party is expected to have a series of countrywide programmes supporting the farmers’ rights. State unit chiefs and legislature party leaders will walk to Raj Bhavans and submit memorandums.

The party will also collect two crore signatures from farmers opposing the agricultural bills. Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies have decided to launch protests across Tamil Nadu on September 28.

Two contentious farm ordinances, which the government claims are meant to liberalise the sector by opening it up to private players, were passed by a voice vote – not a division of votes – despite the Congress, Trinamool Congress and others’ demand for the same to the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson. Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad met President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday and requested him to withhold his approval to the Centre’s contentious farm bills.

Farmers and traders have been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the bills will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers.