Punjab farmers lift rail blockade for 15 days

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Chandigarh: In a move that may bring relief to the state facing an acute shortage of essential supplies, Punjab farmer bodies protesting against the Centre's farm laws on Saturday decided to lift their blockade of passenger trains for 15 days from Monday.

However, the farmer bodies said they will again block the rail tracks if the government failed to resolve their issues.

The train services have remained suspended in the state since September 24, when farmers launched their rail roko agitation against the Centre's recently enacted agriculture-related laws.

Earlier, farmers had allowed freight trains but the Railways refused to resume these, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none.

The decision to lift the blockade of passenger trains came after a meeting of farmer leaders with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

We have decided to allow passenger trains from November 23 evening, said Darshan Pal, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union.

The Punjab CM too welcomed the decision.

Had a fruitful meeting with Kisan Unions. Happy to share that starting 23rd Nov night, Kisan Unions have decided to end rail blockades for 15 days. I welcome this step since it will restore normalcy to our economy. I urge Central Govt to resume rail services to Punjab forthwith, tweeted Amarinder.

Before meeting the Punjab CM, farmer organisations held their own meeting to deliberate on the issue.

The decision was taken while keeping in mind the interest of Punjab, Buta Singh Shadipur, president of the Bharati Kisan Manch, told the media after the meeting here.

He said the decision has not been taken under any pressure either from the Centre or the Punjab government.

If the Centre does not resolve our issues, we will again block rail tracks," he said.

Farmer leaders further said they will go to the national as per their November 26-27 "Delhi Chalo" march call.

Buta Singh Burjgill, president of the BKU (Dakonda), said their protests at toll plazas, outside railway stations, shopping malls and residences of BJP leaders will continue.

The suspension of the train services has hit the supplies of fertilisers for farming, coal for thermal power plants and gunny bags for paddy procurement.

Farmer bodies are also under pressure from the industry, which has seen a loss of about Rs 30,000 crore because of the suspension of goods trains in the state.

The goods trains in the state remained suspended for nearly two months, except for two days on October 22 and 23.

Farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.

They have been demanding that these new laws should be repealed.


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