Tribune News Service
New Delhi/Chandigarh, Nov 7
The Railways today refused to resume goods train services in Punjab, as demanded by agitating farmers who cleared the tracks after over 40 days, maintaining it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or else none.
The protesters called the railways’ attitude “stubborn”, alleging the Centre wanted to harm Punjab financially.
At a virtual press conference, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said, “The statements from both the protesters and the state government are similar — run only freight trains. The railways cannot operate in such a manner. If tracks are clear, they are clear for both freight and passenger trains.” Yadav claimed protesters still remained at one railway station and had assembled just outside station premises in 22 other places in Punjab, “threatening to move to tracks if passenger trains were run”.
Hitting back, Krantikari Kisan Union president Darshan Pal said, “We condemn the stubborn attitude of the Railways and the Centre for not resuming goods trains in the state. BKU (Dakunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill alleged the Centre wanted to harm Punjab’s economic interests. “It is making lame excuses,” he said.
Top central ministers said they were ready for negotiations with the agitating Punjab farmers. In response, a group of 30 farm organisations made it clear that they were open to talks with the Centre but certain conditions must be met.
“First, we want a formal invitation. We won’t respond to any informal invite through local BJP leaders. Second, the government should reveal the name of its representative, who must have the authority to take a decision,” a farmers’ leader said.