CHANDIGARH: Some 30 Punjab farmers’ unions have decided to go to New Delhi for a meeting with the union government on Friday but they are firm that the three central farm laws should be withdrawn.
The 30 unions will be holding talks with union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar and railway minister Piyush Goyal.
The unions also want a change in the law brought in by the Centre to curb air pollution under which non-compliance is punishable by five-year jail or a fine of Rs 1 crore or both.
While their Dilli Challo programme on November 26-27 is as per schedule, they will celebrate Diwali by lighting torches.
Harmeet Singh Qadian, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Qadian) president said: “We do not expect much to come out of the meeting. Our demand is simple, the central government should withdraw the three laws. Not only these laws they should also amend the law brought by them to curb air pollution.” Qadian said “the very fact that defence minister Rajnath Singh first agreed to talk to us and now he was not attending the meeting and that the Delhi Police had denied farmers’ the permission to hold a protest on November 26-27 shows the intent of the Centre.”
“The tax on diesel should be reduced because of the fall in prices of crude oil so that it benefits the farming community,” he said and added that the Centre should lift the “economic blockade” of Punjab by starting train services as farmers were no longer sitting on the rail tracks or platforms of railway stations.
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, Qadian 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 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.
(With PTI Inputs)