Punjab farmers end two-month 'rail roko' for 15 days

Punjab farmers end two-month 'rail roko' for 15 days; passenger, goods trains to resume movement

The decision to allow trains in the state came after a meeting of representatives of farmer leaders with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh

The train services in Punjab have been suspended since September 24 due to farmers' protests. Credit: PTI file photo

After two months of agitation against Centre's agri reforms, farmers' organisations in Punjab on Saturday announced a temporary end to the railway blockade from Monday night, paving way for resumption of passenger and goods trains in the state.

The decision was announced after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held a meeting with leaders of 31 farmers’ organisations, who had blocked rail traffic since September 24, pushing the state on the brink of an economic crisis as thermal power plants were shut due to non-availability of coal.

“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 Government to resume rail services to Punjab forthwith,” Singh said after a meeting with farmers’ leaders in Chandigarh.

Amid pleas from the state government and the industry, farmers’ organisations had shifted their protests from railway tracks to adjacent vacant land, allowing resumption of traffic for two days. However, Railway Board had suspended services again demanding that the protestors clear railway land and assurances of safety from the state government.

The Punjab government had claimed that the industry in the state had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 30,000 crore.

“If the centre does not resolve our issues, we will block railway tracks again,” Buta Singh Shadipur, President, Bharti Kisan Manch, told the media in Chandigarh.

Farmers in Punjab had been agitating against the three farm sector reforms passed by Parliament on September 24. The Congress-led Punjab government too shared the view that the farm laws were against the interest of the farmers.

The Punjab government had ensured passage of four laws to negate the impact of the Centre’s farm sector reforms, which it claimed would end the minimum support price regime and APMC markets.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the Congress of misleading the farmers and asserted that the new laws passed by Parliament would not end MSP or APMC markets.