Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal Sunday slammed the Centre over the continued suspension of freight trains in Punjab, saying it is wrong to treat farmers protesting against the central agriculture laws as “enemies”.
“Farmers held a ‘rail roko’ agitation to press for the repeal of the laws. They have vacated the rail tracks for more than a week. However, the central government is not restarting trains on one flimsy excuse or the other. Such conduct is not advisable in a democracy,” he said.
Sukhbir said the Centre should not make the train services a “prestige” issue.
The Railways on Saturday declined to resume services in Punjab, saying it will either operate both freight and passenger trains or none. The train services in Punjab are suspended since September 24, when farmers started their “rail roko” agitation against the central laws. Goods trains had resumed briefly after farmer unions on October 21 announced exempting them from their “rail roko” stir but the Railways suspended them again, saying farmers are still blocking the tracks.
Sukhbir also attacked Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for doing “nothing” to resolve the crisis, except holding an hour long-protest in Delhi “solely for the benefit of the cameras”.
“The CM should tell Punjabis why he failed to meet either the railway minister or seek time from the prime minister to pressure the Union government for the resumption of freight trains,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Tarn Taran BJP president R P S Maini joined the SAD in presence of Sukhbir here.
Maini, an advocate by profession, had joined the BJP in 2002. He had remained its Tarn Taran district president from 2009 to 2014 and the party spokesperson for the state unit till 2017. Maini said he resigned from the BJP in protest against the party’s refusal to repeal the recently enacted farm laws and its “discriminatory” attitude towards Punjabi language in Jammu and Kashmir.
He also alleged that the BJP central leadership had turned its back to Punjab. Claiming that the BJP followed a one way traffic system in which directions came to state units from the top, Maini said even the Punjab BJP unit did not carry any weight at the Centre.
Welcoming Maini into SAD fold, Sukhbir said after parting ways with the BJP, they are strengthening the party in all 117 constituencies in the state.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines