The railway blockade in Punjab, imposed since September-end by farmers protesting the central government's contentious agriculture laws, has now temporarily come to an end. On Saturday, the famer unions announced that the movement of all trains (both passenger and goods) will be allowed to resume from Monday (November 23) night, for a period of 15 days.
According to news agencies, the farmer unions now expect to hold talks with central government representatives over the next 15 days regarding the controversial laws, which are feared to dilute the MSP regime. The unions have threatened to resume the agitation if talks don't happen in 15 days.
The decision reportedly came through following a meeting between Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and the protesting farmers in Chandigarh, a day after Singh sought the Union government's support to create a "congenial environment" for ending the prolonged agitation against the Centre's new farm laws.
Tweeting shortly after the met, the chief minister said that he welcomed the step since "it will restore normalcy" to the economy.
"Had a fruitful meeting with kisan (farmers') unions. Happy to share that starting November 23 night, kisan unions have decided to end rail blockade for 15 days. I welcome this step since it will restore normalcy to our economy," Amarinder Singh tweeted from his official handle.
"I urge the central government to resume rail services to Punjab forthwith," he added.
When the farmers were refusing to allow movement of passenger trains in the state, Amarinder Singh had, back on Thursday, urged the Centre to show magnanimity and not link restoration of freight services with movement of passenger trains.
The suspension of goods trains had hit the supplies of fertilizers for the agriculture sector and coal for thermal power plants, besides adversely affecting the industry.
Singh had also urged the Union government to support his government in creating a congenial environment for ending the prolonged farmers' agitation, which had grave repercussions for the state and the nation.
Amarinder Singh had on Thursday said it was the joint responsibility of both, the state and the central governments, to provide a conducive environment for resolving the current crisis resulting from suspension of train services.
Punjab farmers' bodies on Wednesday had said that they would consider allowing passenger trains to run in the state if the Centre starts running the goods trains first.
However, the Railways had refused, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none. This culminated in the decision today, when the farmers decided to lift their blockade on a temporary basis.
According to a government statement, Amarinder Singh is also likely to soon hold meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
The issue was resulting in massive losses to the state exchequer every day, while causing irrevocable damage to industry and agriculture.
Farmers, who are protesting against the three farm laws, have said that they will reach Delhi through five highways connecting the national capital on November 26 as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' march call.
Farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates. They have been demanding that the laws be repealed.
(With agency inputs)