ALL EYES of industrial associations and political parties are now on a meeting of 30 farmer organisations to be held at Kisan Bhawan, Chandigarh, on Wednesday. This meeting’s agenda is to discuss preparations for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ program scheduled for November 26-27, and their stand on passenger trains to Punjab.
Railways have suspended train services in Punjab since October 24 because they want to run both freight and passenger trains, while farmers have said they will not let passenger trains run enter Punjab.
The Railways suffer a loss of approximately Rs 1,670 crore due to suspension of freight trains alone. Till now, 1,986 passenger trains and 3,090 freight trains have been canceled.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda) and working committee member of the All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), said, “We will be discussing various plans for our ‘Delhi Chalo’ program.
Earlier we had been given permission to conduct a rally at the Ramlila Ground by the Ramlila committee, Municipal Corporation Delhi, but Delhi Police denied permission for this rally and as well a protest at Jantar Mantar citing increasing the number of Covid cases in the national capital. Hence, we will be discussing where to organise protest rally if we are stopped by Haryana police after crossing Punjab border, a plan B if Haryana cops stop us at the border close to Delhi, and a plan C if Delhi Police does not allow us to enter Delhi. In all cases, we need to guide our members on what to do and where to gather. However, our farmers will definitely reach Delhi for this program, come what may. If the PM can conduct jam-packed rallies in Bihar, why can’t we hold protest rallies?”
He further said, “Yes we will definitely discuss our stand over passenger trains as well because Railways is acting in a stubborn manner. They are dictating us how to protest. This matter will also be discussed with all unions and we will take a decision on which everyone agrees.”
Meanwhile, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings president Upkar Singh Ahuja said, “Farm bills have created a sense of panic in farmers, due to which industry in Punjab is in pathetic condition as trains have been suspended by Railways because farmers are saying they will not allow passenger trains while the former want to run both services. In such a situation, manufacturing units of Punjab are suffering a lot. Containers of raw materials are either stuck at the inland container depots (ICDs) or at gateway ports resulting in huge shortage of raw materials. Cost of raw materials like steel have also skyrocketed.”
Pankaj Sharma, general secretary of CICU, said, “We had not even recovered from the Covid pandemic yet and had to face this unprecedented situation. Even during the black days of Punjab, farmers and the industry stood hand in hand.”
More than two lakh micro small and medium enterprises are currently operating in Punjab which provide employment to more than a crore people, said J S Bhogal, publicity secretary of CICU. The members urged farmers to take a decision in favour of Punjab so that regular train services can resume. As of now, farmers are sitting outside railway stations at nearly 30 locations such as Moga, Barnala, Sangrur, Muktsar, Mansa etc.
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