41 trains canceled and 11 interrupted by farmers’ protest in Punjab
The Northern Railway said on Friday that as many as 41 trains were canceled and 11 were halted in view of the farmers’ unrest in Punjab.
Hours earlier, the Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, and the Minister of Railways, Food and Consumer Affairs, Piyush Goyal, held talks with a delegation of Punjab farmer representatives, protesting against a set of laws recently passed to liberalize the agricultural sector, in the Vigyan Bhawan of the capital.
This is the government’s second attempt to negotiate with farmers and break a dead end following the agitation of farmers in some states, particularly in Punjab, against the initiative of the Center to open agricultural markets in the nation.
Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal had met with a delegation of farmers on October 14, after inviting them to talk, to convince them to end their protest, but the meeting ended in a stalemate.
Farmers in Punjab have launched protests blocking rail tracks and road transport since the government enacted three agricultural laws in September.
Together, the three laws allow agricultural companies to trade freely in agricultural products by easing restrictions, allow private traders to store essential commodities for future sales, and establish new rules for contract farming.
Protesting farmers say the reforms could make them vulnerable to exploitation, erode their bargaining power and weaken the government’s minimum support price (MSP) system, which offers farmers government-insured prices, mainly for wheat. and rice.
Farmer organizations are likely to push for the MSP system to become law, which is high on their agenda.