Farmers raise slogans as they stage a protest on the NH 54 over non-supply of Urea, in Bathind (PTI)
CHANDIGARH/BATHINDA/AMRITSAR: Punjab farmer unions, which have been protesting for over two months against the Centre’s three contentious agri-marketing laws, agreed on Saturday to accept chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s appeal and decided to allow passenger trains to run in the state from November 23 till December 10.
The decision to lift the rail blockade was announced by Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal at a meeting of farm group representatives with the Punjab CM. Rajewal, however, warned that the blockade would be resumed if the central government failed to hold talks with farmers’ representatives in the next 15 days to address their concerns about the contentious laws.
Farmer leaders Buta Singh Burjgill and Darshan Pal said despite the relaxation for passenger trains, all other protests, including blocking of toll plazas, petrol pumps and businesses owned by the Reliance Group, and protests outside BJP leaders’ residences, would continue. “The proposed protest in Delhi on November 26-27 remains in force,” they said.
Amarinder also urged the Modi government to reciprocate by restoring all train services in the state, and also to hold talks with the farmers’ representatives.
The CM said the blockade had caused Punjab Rs 40,000 crore in losses so far. He also highlighted the acute shortage in the state of coal, fertilisers and urea, among other essential commodities. A large number of industrial units had closed down in Ludhiana and Jalandhar due to scarcity of raw material, resulting in six lakh migrant labourers going back to their natives places, he told the unions. He assured the farm leaders that he would meet the PM and home minister Amit Shah soon to press for their demands.
The CM also promised the farm representatives he would look into their other demands, including sugarcane price hike and clearance of dues, as well as withdrawal of FIRs registered in stubble-burning cases.