Protesting farm unions in Punjab refuse to budge

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 4

The 30 protesting farmer unions in Punjab have refused to succumb to any pressure and decided to continue with their agitation against the three Farm Acts passed by the Centre in September.

They are all set to make a show of strength on Thursday, when a “chakka jam” is being organised across the country. The farmers, who have received support from 200 other unions associated with All India Kisan Sangharsh Committee, will be blocking all national highways between 12 noon to 4 pm. In Punjab, they will be blocking all state and national highways.

A meeting of the 30 farmer unions of the state — barring BKU Ekta Ugrahan and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee — was held today, wherein it has been decided to allow the passage of goods trains till November 20. They had earlier allowed the passage of goods trains in the state till November 4, but the Union Railway Ministry has decided to keep the railway service to Punjab under suspension.

Other than this, it has been decided to continue the gherao of businesses owned by corporate houses – toll plazas, petrol pumps and retail businesses, and outside the houses of BJP leaders in Punjab, said Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of BKU Dakaunda.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Punjab government, including minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Political Adviser to CM Capt Sandeep Sandhu, also met the representatives of these 30 Unions and those of BKU Ekta Ugrahan separately today. Yesterday, they had met representatives of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, trying to explain the effects of the long protest and the resultant suspension of train service to Punjab by the Centre, on the state’s economy.

They are learnt to have explained to the unions how the urea, DAP and potash shortage was being created for the wheat crop to be sown and how the shortage of gunny bags for storing paddy and the custom milled rice, besides the shortage of coal for the power plants, would hit the state hard. It is learnt that the unions have refused to budge.

It has been 35 days since the statewide protests were launched by the farmers, after the contentious Farm Acts were passed in the Parliament. Farmers have now said they will sit along the tracks and at railway stations, so that the railway operations can be resumed, though they will not allow the passenger trains to operate till their demands were met.

It is learnt that 2,225 railway rakes could not be operated till date, and Railways claim they have suffered a loss of Rs 1,200 crore. Dharnas are continuing at 32 places in the state. As many as 1,350 passenger trains have also been cancelled till date.

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