Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the centre to help end the rail blockade by farmers angry at the new agricultural laws and said he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the issue.
Urging the central government to show “magnanimity”, Captain Singh urged it to agree to the farmers’ demand of restoring freight services first.
Punjab farmers’ bodies had on Wednesday said they would consider allowing passenger trains to run in the state if the centre starts running the goods trains first.
The railways, however, has refused to resume goods trains, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none.
The suspension of goods trains has hit the supplies of fertilisers for the agriculture sector and coal for thermal power plants, besides adversely affecting the industry.
Amarinder Singh said it was the joint responsibility of both the state and the centre to help resolve the current crisis resulting from the suspension of train services.
According to a government statement, Captain Singh is likely to meet the farmers’ unions soon in Chandigarh, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
The continued suspension of the rail movement is hurting not just Punjab but also the neighbouring states, he said.
Even the armed forces in Ladakh and Kashmir have been hit hard as their supplies have been seriously affected by the prolonged blockade, he said.
He also said the farmers should ease their blockade of passenger trains to aid the state government, which has extended full support in their fight against the farm laws.
Farmers in Punjab have been furious about the new agricultural laws enacted by the central government in September over fears that it would hurt their income and encourage profiteering by corporates. The centre has denied the charge and said the laws will help farmers avoid middlemen.