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Protesting farmers to meet Punjab CM on October 12; rail roko to continue

Protesting farmers to meet Punjab CM on October 12; rail roko to continue
Highlights

With the farmers\' protest entering fourth day on Saturday and rail services remaining paralysed, ruling SAD invited the protesting farmers to hold talks with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on October 12 for resolving their issues.

With the farmers' protest entering fourth day on Saturday and rail services remaining paralysed, ruling SAD invited the protesting farmers to hold talks with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on October 12 for resolving their issues.


Rail services continued to remain paralysed for the fourth consecutive day today with a large number of farmers participating in rail roko agitation in support of their various demands.

Because of the farmers' protest, the movement of trains was hit at tracks including Ludhiana-Ferozepur, Ludhiana-Amritsar, Bathinda-Ambala and Ambala-Ferozeur, railway officials said.

Though the SAD has appealed to farmers to call off their protest, no prior condition has been put before the agitating farmers to hold talks with the Chief Minister by the ruling party.

"We have fixed a meeting of representatives of farmers' organisations with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday in Chandigarh at 4:30 pm, to hold discussions with them on the table," SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said today.

Chandumajra has been assigned the responsibility of prevailing upon the agitating farmers to bring them on table for negotiations to discuss their demands.

"We have not put any condition before them for holding talks with CM. But we appeal to them to call off their protest to hold discussions in congenial environment," Chandumajra, MP from Anandpur Sahib further said, adding that SAD had always been taking pro-farmers steps.

Confirming the invitation by SAD for holding talks, BKU (Ugrahan) General Secretary, Sukhdev Singh Kokri said, "We will meet Punjab CM on Monday to discuss farmers' issues."

"We have also asked them for sending formal invitation letters to all farmers' outfits participating in Rail Roko agitation for negotiations with CM," Kokri said. However, he said that the Rail Roko agitation would continue today.

"Any decision on calling off, suspending or extending agitation will be taken by the coordination committee of eight farmers' organisations later today," he said.

Farmers had earlier extended their Rail Roko agitation till October 10. Earlier, the representatives of protesting farmers had met senior government officials led by Chief Secretary, but the talks remained inconclusive.

As part of their plan to intensify their agitation, as many as eight farmers' organisations including BKU Ekta (Dakunda), BKU Ekta (Ugrahan), BKU (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union are participating in Rail Roko agitation which began on October 7.

Not paying any heed to the request of railway authorities or state authorities for not halting trains, farmers in large numbers have been squatting on railway tracks at various places in the state, causing inconvenience to passengers.

Because of farmers' protest, train movement in Punjab has almost come to a halt with farmers blaming the SAD-BJP government for its "apathetic" attitude towards their genuine grievances.

A large number of trains, including super fast and mail express have been cancelled, short terminated and diverted since past three days due to farmers protest.

Protesting farmers continued to block rail traffic at Mansa, Rampura, Shergarh, Pathrala (Bathinda), Dagru (Moga), and Mucchal (Amritsar).

The trains running are behind schedule by several hours, railway officials said.

Among various demands, farmers in Punjab have been demanding Rs 40,000 per acre compensation for those whose crop got damaged by whitefly attack, Rs 20,000 per family compensation for farm labour, Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for basmati PUSA 1509 variety, and Rs 5,000 per quintal for basmati PUSA 1121 variety.

Besides, they are also seeking payments of sugarcane dues by private mills, debt relief and Rs 5 lakh financial assistance to the family of farmers who committed suicide.

However, Punjab government has claimed that it had released maximum compensation to cotton growers whose crop was damaged because of pest attack. SAD had even accused farmers' outfits of playing politics over the peasants' issues.
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