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BJP team meets Railway minister, seeks an end to Punjab crisis

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri was among the members who met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A BJP delegation met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday over the suspension of goods and passenger trains due to farmers’ agitations in Punjab, and sought his intervention to resume services and put an end to the “dire circumstances being forced on Punjabis” amid the festive season.

The delegation included Union Civil Aviation Minister and BJP leader Hardeep Singh Puri, party national general secretary Tarun Chug, spokesperson R P Singh and Punjab unit president Ashwani Sharma.

In a letter to the Railway Minister, Mr. Sharma alleged the State is literally “under siege” of the Congress government which is playing politics over the issue.

“We request immediate redressal by your august office to take an undertaking from the State government for security and protection to start goods and passenger trains with immediate effect. The common man is reeling under great economic stress,” he said.

“The industry and commerce in the State have virtually shut down and the repercussions of this economic hit will break the backbone of the economy in the already depressed economic status of the State. Punjab’s industry and commerce play a pivotal role by providing jobs to a large segment of society,” he said.

He also said that fertiliser and pesticides shortage is becoming a huge problem for the agriculture sector.

“This letter is to bring to your notice the dire circumstances being forced on Punjabis as the Congress government (in the State) is busy sponsoring the agitation in the name of farmers.... The Union minister is aware that it’s festive season and people of the State cannot travel due to non-plying of trains. It is pertinent to note that the national security has to be considered as the supplies to Jammu and Kashmir is not reaching due to the apathy of the State government,” he said in his letter.

Mr. Sharma also requested that the Punjab Chief Minister be immediately asked to give assurance that the railway blockades will be cleared and goods and passenger trains start with immediate effect.

Mr. Goyal told the delegation that the Railways was ready to start operations in the State provided an assurance is given from the State government about the security of its personnel.

“The Railways is ready to begin operations in Punjab provided the State government gives us an assurance of safety of trains and clears tracks of protestors,” Mr. Goyal said in a tweet.

Train services have remained suspended for over a month in the State due to agitation by farmer groups against three farm sector laws passed by the Parliament recently. The national transporter has said that it has already suffered losses to the tune of ₹1,200 crore.

The three farm laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 — were enacted recently.

Farmers’ bodies protesting against the laws have expressed apprehension that these would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporate entities. They demand that the laws be withdrawn.

The Centre has asserted that these new laws will be beneficial for farmers and will increase their income.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:16:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-team-meets-railway-minister-seeks-an-end-to-crisis-in-punjab/article33030332.ece

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