No rail tracks blocked, will vacate platforms: Punjab farmer outfits

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Chandigarh, Nov 4 (PTI) Farmer bodies in Punjab that are protesting against the central farm laws on Wednesday asserted there were presently no blockades of railway tracks and the platforms would be vacated, as they slammed the Centre over the power crisis in the state.

Coal supplies to thermal power plants in Punjab have been severely affected after the Railways suspended the operation of freight trains due to the blockade of some tracks by farmers over the three new contentious legislations.

The farmer outfits claim they are not protesting on the rail tracks now, but near it and on the platforms, while the Railways maintain that the agitation is still continuing on some tracks.

The organisations announced that they would allow the movement of goods trains in the state for 15 more days, as they gear up for the proposed nationwide road blockade on Thursday.

'The attitude of the central government towards the state is not only anti-farmer, but also anti-Punjab,' Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of the Jamhoori Kisna Sabha, told the media here.

'Central ministers are not ready to meet and the President has not given time to meet the state government representatives,' he said. 'They are indulging in arm twisting, and trying to suppress farmers and labourers' voice.' Sandhu said the state industry was on the verge of closure and 12 lakh labourers had lost their jobs.

'Coal is not coming, there is a shortage of urea and DAP (diammonium phosphate), and the power cuts in the state are being imposed,' said Sandhu, pointing towards the impact of the suspension of goods trains by the Railways.

Earlier, protesting farmers had announced to allow movement of freight trains till November 5.

However, the Railways later decided to extend the suspension, saying protesting farmers were still blocking the tracks. It has also been demanding that the agitators should vacate the platforms.

Sharing details about the decisions taken by the representatives of 30 farmer outfits, Sandhu said goods trains would be allowed for 15 more days in the state, keeping in mind the requirements of the trade and industry, and for the supply of fertilisers for crops.

Sandhu said all the main tracks were clear. 'Nobody is sitting on the tracks,' he said, asking whether any farmer had created a problem in its operation when the Railways ran goods trains for two days.

The farmer leader said the railways stations would also be vacated. 'We will sit in the park outside the railway stations,' he said.

On some farmer bodies that were not clearing the tracks, Sandhu said they have told the state government representatives these organisations were not their part.

Members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) are squatting on two rail tracks that lead to coal supplies to two private thermal plants at Rajpura and Mansa. Protesters under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee are also sitting on a rail track in Amritsar.

However, he said that their protests outside the residence of BJP leaders, shopping malls of some corporate houses, toll plazas would continue.

Sandhu added that the Punjab farmer bodies would participate in the proposed nationwide 'chakka jam' (road blockade) on November 5.

Over 300 farmer organisations had jointly announced last month to block various highways and roads across the country on Thursday in protest against the central farm laws. PTI CHS VSD HMB