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Opinion

Farmers agree to run trains in Punjab

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Punjab farmers unions announced on Saturday that they will fully lift their nearly two-month-long rail blockade against the Center’s new farm laws starting Monday, clearing the way for the movement of goods and passenger trains in the state.

However, the unions have given the Center 15 days to make a decision on the withdrawal of the laws; if that doesn’t happen, they have threatened to reset the lock.

Saturday’s announcement came after Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh invited the leaders of the 31 farmers’ unions to Chandigarh for talks to break the stalemate on the resumption of train services in Punjab.

Read also | Farmers plan a protest in Delhi from November 26

“I had a fruitful meeting with Kisan Unions. Happy to share that as of November 23, the unions have decided to end the rail blockades for 15 days. I welcome this step, as it will restore normalcy to our economy. I urge the Center to resume rail services to Punjab immediately, ”the prime minister tweeted shortly after the meeting.

Amarinder urged the Center to support his government in creating a friendly environment to end the unrest, which he said had serious repercussions for the state and nation.

The Punjab farmers’ bodies initially said on Wednesday that they would consider allowing passenger trains to run in the state if the Center started operating freight trains first.

However, the railways refused, saying they would operate freight and passenger trains or neither.

The suspension of freight trains has affected the supply of fertilizers for the agricultural sector and coal for thermal power plants, in addition to negatively affecting the industry.

The decision to lift the railway blockade was announced by Bharti Kissan Union (Rajewal) chairman Balbir Singh Rajewal at a meeting of farmers’ union representatives with the chief minister to resolve the mess.

“If the Center does not address our issues and clarify its position on the withdrawal of bills within 15 days, we will begin our agitation again,” Rajewal said.

Read also | Rice purchases rise 18% as government seeks to quell farmers’ protests

Thanking the unions for accepting his request, the prime minister assured peasant leaders that he would soon meet with the prime minister and the union’s interior minister to lobby for their demands.

Singh also promised the farmers’ representatives that he would analyze their other demands, including those related to an increase in the price of sugarcane and the settlement of quotas, as well as the withdrawal of the FIRs registered in the stubble burning cases. . He said he would hold discussions with them on these issues over the next week, and would also establish a committee of officers to discuss the matter.

Singh said that the Center’s decision to engage with farmers’ unions indicated that it was realizing the serious repercussions of hastily passed farm laws, particularly in the context of Pakistan’s ever-present threat to disturb India’s peace, especially from Punjab. Islamabad is sending weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency, etc. via drones, and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition has been seized along the Punjab border, he said, adding that it is the responsibility of all Punjabis to ensure peace.

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