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Punjab farmer protests: It’s a matter of security, we won’t be dictated, says Railways

A total 2,352 passenger trains have been cancelled or diverted since farmers began a protest in September against the Centre's new farm laws.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi | Updated: November 21, 2020 9:41:12 am
indian railways, Punjab train services, railway board, Punjab train service blocked, Indian ExpressMembers of KMSC sitting on train tracks in Jandiala Guru area of Amritsar district. (Express photo)

The Indian Railways insisted on Friday that services through Punjab would resume only after the state government provides an assurance of security to all trains.

The unprecedented stoppage of all train services in Punjab completed its 56th day on Friday. A total 2,352 passenger trains have been cancelled or diverted since farmers began a protest in September against the Centre’s new farm laws.

“Law and order is the subject of the state government. It is up to them how they want to deal with the protesters. We have said to the state government time and again that the tracks should be handed over to us to safely run all kinds of trains. That is the stand,” Arun Kumar, Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF), who is in touch with his counterparts in Punjab Police, told The Indian Express.

For the Railways, as long as protesters were sitting in the vicinity of the tracks or on station premises, there was no guarantee they would not move to the tracks as a train approaches. “Many trains that carry our staff for maintenance and other duties look like passenger trains. We need to have the confidence that protesters will not harm them thinking they are passenger trains,” Kumar said.

On November 6, Chairman Railway Board V K Yadav had said that running only goods trains as per the wishes of the protesters was not possible.

“Nowhere in the country can any state government or any other agency dictate terms to Railways. It is our network and we decide whether to run goods trains or passenger trains,” Yadav had said.

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