Allow Goods Trains First, Will Think Over Passenger Trains Later, Say Punjab Farmers' Bodies
Farmers block a railway track during a protest against the new farm law, at Jandiala Guru in Amritsar, Wednesday, November 4, 2020. (Image: PTI)
Condemning the BJP-led central government for its stubborn attitude, various Punjab farmers' bodies on Wednesday said if the Centre starts running goods trains in the state, they will think of allowing passenger trains. Addressing the media after a meeting here, farmer leaders insisted they will continue with their agitation against the new farm laws.
The Centre has adopted a stubborn attitude towards Punjab and its farmers, traders and labourers and we condemn the central government's attitude, said farmer leader Ruldu Singh. He said it had been nearly a month since goods train service has been stopped in the state. The Central government should run (goods) trains first and then we will hold an emergency meeting in which we could think over passenger trains, said Punjab Kisan Union Singh.
We will think over passenger trains if the Centre allows goods trains, he asserted. The Railways had declined to resume goods train operation in Punjab, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none.
Farmers held a meeting here days after a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash in Delhi that remained inconclusive. Singh said farmers, traders and labourers were adversely affected because of the Centre's stubborn attitude. He further said representatives of 30 farmers' organisations were ready to go to Delhi by tractors for holding a protest on November 26 and 27 against the new farm laws.
They give permission or not, we are fully prepared to go to Delhi, he said. A 'Delhi Chalo' protest call has been given by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a body of more than 200 farmers' organisations across the country.
To another question, he said farmers have been holding protests outside the residences of several BJP leaders in the state. Asked whether they will gherao BJP president J P Nadda if he comes to Punjab, Singh said they will definitely do so.
Nadda will digitally inaugurate 10 district offices of the party on November 19 and he would soon undertake a three-day tour to the state to take stock of the preparations and to galvanise party workers for the 2022 Punjab assembly polls, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh had said on November 16. Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the new farm laws would pave the 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.
Farmers had resorted to 'rail roko' agitation and staged sit-ins outside some shopping malls, toll plazas and outside the residences of BJP leaders.