First allow goods trains to ply in Punjab: Farmer unions

The trains have been suspended in Punjab since September 24 with farmers starting the rail blockade campaign against the farm laws.
Farmers Protest
Farmers Protest

Chandigarh: Adopting a tough stance, 30 protesting farmer unions on Wednesday said the Central government should first allow the goods trains to ply in Punjab, and then they would consider allowing the passenger trains to ply in the state.

They have also decided to proceed with their proposed protest against the three Central farm laws in the national capital on November 26 and 27 by reaching there in strength on tractor-trailers.

These were among the major decision taken by the unions at its meeting here that lasted for over five hours.

The Centre must show its good intent by allowing goods trains to operate, said a joint statement after the meeting.

“The unions have been under pressure from the industry and the state government to stop the agitation on the railway stations as the Railway Ministry has refused to restore the trains,” they said.

“We would like to tell the industrialists that we are fighting for a just cause. The Centre is responsible for economic blockade by keeping trains off track,” Rajinder Singh of the Krantikari Kisan Union told the media.

He said the farmers were not staging sit-in protests on railway tracks but protesting on station premises against the farm laws.

During the meeting, the farmers rejected outright the Centre’s explanation about how the three agricultural laws that would benefit them.

Punjab Kisan Union President Ruldu Singh Mansa said their agitation against the BJP leaders and corporate houses in the state would continue.

Earlier, the day-long talks between the Union government and the farmers ended inconclusively in Delhi on November 13.

Punjab’s economy, which comprises 75 per cent of the farming community, is facing acute power shortage with cuts lasting up to five hours in many parts following shutting down of all five thermal facilities owing to coal stocks running out in the wake of non-plying of goods trains in the state.

Officials told IANS the trains have been suspended in Punjab since September 24 with farmers starting the rail blockade campaign against the farm laws.

The three farm laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 — were enacted in September.

Farmers protesting against the laws have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporate entities.

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