Suspension of trains: Punjab CM seeks Union home minister's intervention

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Chandigarh, Nov 8 (PTI) Amid the suspension of train services due to a farmers' stir against the Centre's farm laws, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh said he has sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention into the issue.

According to a government statement, he also reiterated his assurance of a smooth and safe movement of goods trains in the state.

The Railways on Saturday declined to resume goods trains 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.

The CM spoke to Shah on Saturday, assuring him that there are no law and order concerns to prevent the resumption of the services to facilitate the supply of essential commodities in Punjab and neighbouring states, all of which are 'suffering colossal losses' due to the suspension of trains, the statement said.

He said security concerns may, however, be serious for the nation if essential supplies do not reach the armed forces in Ladakh and Kashmir before the snowfall due to the Railways' decision of not resuming goods trains immediately.

He sought to counter the 'misinformation' being spread on this count and said all tracks have been cleared by farmers for movement of freight trains.

The situation on the ground is totally peaceful and conducive to safe transportation of goods, he told the home minister.

The chief minister said the agitating farmers have not disturbed peace in any part of Punjab.

Restating his earlier assurance to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, the CM told Shah he had directed the Punjab Police to extend all support to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in providing security on the tracks and platforms.

He said it was the joint responsibility of the central and state governments to ensure that the train services are resumed at the earliest.

The state government, said the chief minister, is closely engaged with farmer organisations to persuade them to lift their blockade completely to allow passenger trains too so that Punjabis, including the 1.5 lakh soldiers stationed in various places, could come home for Diwali.

Several of his ministers are in discussion with farmer unions in this regard, he added.

The Centre should take immediate steps to restore normalcy by directing the Railways to commence movement of goods trains through the state, he added.

Saying that it was in Punjab's interest to ensure early revival of the rail services, Amarinder Singh termed as unfortunate the attempts by the Opposition, including some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, to 'politicise' the issue.

The CM said he had expressed concerns on this count in his open letter to BJP national president JP Nadda, wherein he had called for joint efforts by the Centre and the state to find an amicable solution to the problem. Given the gravity of the issue, it is time to come together to resolve it in the interest of the nation, the CM said. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK