Saturday, October 23, 2021

Capt Amarinder speaks to Amit Shah on goods train services issue for early resolution

Reiterating his assurance of smooth and safe goods train movement in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said he had spoken to Union Home Minister Amit Shah for his intervention to ensure restoration of rail services and was hopeful of early resolution of the issue.

The Chief Minister spoke to Shah yesterday to discuss the situation and assured him that there were no law and order concerns to prevent resumption of the services for facilitating supply of essential commodities in Punjab and neighbouring states, including Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, all of which were suffering colossal losses due to the continued suspension of trains. He pointed out that the security concerns could, however, be serious for the nation if essential supplies did not reach the armed forces in Ladakh and the Valley before snowfall due to the Railways’ decision not to ply goods trains immediately.

Countering the misinformation being spread on this count, Captain Amarinder said all tracks had been cleared by farmers for movement of freight trains. The situation on the ground was totally peaceful and conducive to safe transportation of goods, he apprised the Home Minister. He pointed out that the agitating farmers had not disturbed peace in any part of Punjab over the past few weeks of their protests.

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Restating his earlier assurance to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, the Chief Minister told Shah he had directed Punjab Police to extend all support to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in providing security on the tracks as well as the platforms to enable smooth movement of freight trains, for which the Kisan Unions had already eased their blockade. He stressed that 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, was closely engaged with the farmer organisations to persuade them to lift their blockade completely to allow passenger trains also to commute so that Punjabis, including the 1.5 lakh soldiers stationed in various places, could come home for Diwali. Several of his ministers were in discussion with the farmer unions in this regard, he added. On its part, the central government should take immediate steps to restore normalcy by directing the Railways to commence movement of the goods trains through the state, he added.

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Pointing out that it was in Punjab’s interest to ensure early revival of rail services, Captain Amarinder termed as unfortunate the attempts by the Opposition, including certain Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, to politicise the issue. He pointed out that 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, triggered by the Farm Laws which had led to unrest among the farmers. Given the gravity of the issue, it was time to come together to resolve the issue in the interest of the nation, the Chief Minister added.

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