Punjab farmer orgs to hold talks with Centre, take up issue of agri laws, goods train services

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Chandigarh, Nov 12 (PTI) Punjab's farmer unions on Thursday decided to accept the Centre's invitation for holding talks in Delhi on Friday and said they will demand the three farm laws be repealed.

The Union Agriculture secretary had on November 10 invited several farmer organisations to talks with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.

'We have unanimously decided that we will go tomorrow (to Delhi) and hold talks,' Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kadiyan) president Harmeet Singh Kadiyan said here.

The decision was taken by representatives of various farmers' organisations at a meeting here.

'We will demand that these three laws be repealed. We will tell them why these laws are wrong,' Kadiyan said.

During the meeting with the two Union ministers, the issue of resumption of goods trains in the state will also be raised.

'We will take up the issue of resumption of goods trains in Punjab,' he added.

Kadiyan said protesting farmers had already lifted their blockades from rail tracks and vacated platforms and questioned the Centre for not allowing freight train movement.

Asked about Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's appeal of allowing passenger trains as well, Kadiyan asked who would fight the battle if the agitation was continuously relaxed.

'We went one step back so the government takes one step forward, but it did not do so,' he said.

He said farmers were facing a shortage of urea for crop sowing because of non-operation of trains.

Train services in Punjab have been suspended since September 24, when farmers started their 'rail roko' agitation against the central laws.

Though goods trains were allowed, passenger trains were not.

The Railways has refused to resume goods train services in Punjab, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none at all.

Kadiyan further said their agitation would continue in the state.

He said farmers from Punjab would go to Delhi by tractors on November 26 and 27 and 'gherao' the national capital against the new farm laws.

A 'Delhi Chalo' protest call has been sounded by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a body of more than 200 farmers' organisations across the country.

Meanwhile, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu said they would not attend the meeting called by the Union ministers.

He cited non-operation of goods trains and not inviting other farmers' organisations for talks as the reasons behind the decision.

Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the 'mercy' of big corporates.

They have been demanding that these new laws be repealed.

Protesting farmers had staged sit-ins near some shopping malls, toll plazas and outside residences of BJP leaders. PTI CHS VSD IJT