Punjab farmers temporarily end train blockade, say ‘would be resumed if Centre failed’

On Saturday, Punjab farmer unions, which have been protesting for over two months against the Centre’s three contentious agrimarketing laws, agreed to the chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh’s appeal and decided to allow passenger trains to run in the state from November 23 till December 10.

The protesting organisations, however, warned that the blockade would be resumed if the Narendra Modi government failed to hold talks with the representatives in the next 15 days to address their concerns about the ‘anti-farmer’ laws.

“All other protests, including blocking of toll plazas, petrol pumps and businesses owned by the Reliance group and protests outside the residences of BJP leaders will continue,” said Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal who announced the decision to lift the rail blockade at a meeting of the representatives of farmer unions with the Punjab CM.

“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,” CM Singh tweeted after meeting.

“We are giving permission for the plying of passenger trains as there was dire necessity for urea and coal in the state and for moving food grains out of Punjab,” Rajewal said.

He also said CM Amarinder also promised them that he would look into their other demands, including those related to sugarcane price hike and clearance of dues, as well as withdrawal of FIRs registered in stubble burning cases.

According to CM, the blockade has led to losses to the state economy worth ₹ 40,000 crore. The Railways, meanwhile, has suffered an estimated ₹ 1,200 crore loss.