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Punjab

Capt wants tracks clear

November 10, 2020 05:38 AM

COURTESY HT NOV 10

Capt wants tracks clear
State BJP chief says Nov 13 is likely date, says farm unions have given consent; CM asks farmer to take note on invite
Ravinder Vasudeva

ravinder.vasudeva@htlive.com

Chandigarh : In twin developments that augur well, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday appealed to farm unions to completely lift the rail blockade and allow passenger trains to also ply. His statement came even as Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Narendra Tomar invited agitating farmers for talks.

“Union defence minister Rajnath Singh and Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar have invited agitating farmers unions from Punjab for talks to Delhi. This meeting may happen on November 13, just a day before Diwali. But the final date for the meeting is likely to be conveyed to farmers on Tuesday morning,” said Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma, adding that after consent and consultation with unions, a tentative schedule has also been drawn up.

Sources said the meeting came about after a Punjab BJP delegation that included former minister Surjit Kumar Jyani, who is heading the party’s panel to talk to protesting farmers, met Rajnath and apprised him of the ground reality. Punjab BJP’s senior leader Harjit Grewal was also part of this meeting.

The delegation categorically requested Rajnath to intervene to break the impasse, as the BJP had invited unprecedented ire from the state’s farmers. Jyani has already criticised the state unit of the BJP, saying it had mishandled farmers’ protests.

Movement of passenger and goods trains in Punjab has been suspended since September 24, when farmers started their “rail roko” agitation against the central laws. Goods trains had resumed briefly after farm unions, on October 21, announced exempting them from their “rail roko” stir. The railways, however, suspended these again, saying farmers were still blocking the tracks. Now, the Centre wants all railway property to be vacated for it to resume services.

This is the second meeting that the Union government has called, with farmers staging a walkout from the first, as no minister met them.

Punjab is seeking movement of freight trains so that fertilizers of urea and di-ammonia phosphate for wheat crop reaches the state and the foodgrain stocks can be transported out of the state. The CM has asked farmers to take note of the invite. “The move indicates that the Centre is open to finding an amicable solution to problems before farmers in the wake of the enactment of these laws.” He added that his government would not allow interests of the farmers to be compromised at any cost, as these were linked to the state.

In Ludhiana, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Rawat, who held a meeting with the Congressmen, said the party and the Punjab government have always backed farmers

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