Tribune News Service & PTI
Chandigarh, November 21
Punjab farmers protesting against the Centre’s recent farm laws have decided to allow passenger trains to run for 15 days, beginning Monday evening. The farmers’ unions warned that they would again block the tracks if the government failed to address their concerns.
Hours later, the Railways said it would resume goods and passenger train services in Punjab following the state government’s communication that the tracks were clear for operations. Sources indicated that the services would resume from Tuesday.
DISCORDANT NOTE: two unions disagree
- Kirti Kisan Union distances itself from decision by 29 unions
- Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee to continue ‘rail roko’
Thirty farm unions met here on Saturday morning and later called on Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
“We have given 15 days to the BJP-led Union Government to initiate talks with us on the three controversial farm laws, failing which we will resume our agitation on the Railways property,” warned Balbir Singh Rajewal, BKU-Rajewal chief.
No road map, talks are pointless
The state govt has failed to rein in liquor, sand and land mafia. This has hurt Punjab’s growth. It is wrong to relate the state’s falling economy with our cause. The Centre and Punjab Govt have no road map to resolve our issues. Holding talks is pointless. —SS Pandher, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee
Meanwhile, the unions will continue to protest outside the residences of BJP leaders and toll plazas and businesses owned by certain corporate houses.
Train services in Punjab were suspended on September 24 when the farmers launched “Rail Roko”. While the farmers in October allowed the movement of goods trains in Punjab, the Railway Board refused to resume services until the Railways property was cleared of all protesters.
CM hails farmers’ decision
I welcome this step since it will restore normalcy to our economy. I urge the Central Govt to resume rail services to Punjab forthwith. —Capt Amarinder Singh, CM
Sources said the Kirti Kisan Union refused to shift the protest from the Railways property, arguing that this would make the farmers appear weak. Hence, it kept away from the meeting with the CM where issues such as subsidy on stubble management machines, withdrawal of FIRs for farm fires, releasing dues of cane growers and hiking the state advised price to Rs 360 per quintal were raised.
A report from Amritsar said the Majha-based Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee too had decided to continue the agitation, arguing that any dialogue with the Centre was pointless. In his appeal earlier, the CM had urged the farmers to let the train services resume as the blockade had so far caused a loss of Rs 40,000 crore to the state. Pointing to the shortage of coal, fertilisers and other essential commodities, he had said a large number of units had closed down in Ludhiana and Jalandhar due to scarcity of raw material.