Train services to Punjab will only be restored after the state government assures safety and security of railway property and personnel and clears the tracks of all agitators, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
He earlier met leaders of both the BJP and Congress in separate delegations, where they sought Mr Goyal’s intervention in resuming train services in the state saying the suspension was having an adverse effect on Punjab’s economy.
“The Railways is ready to begin operations in Punjab provided the state government gives us an assurance of safety of trains and clears tracks of protestors,” Mr Goyal said in a tweet.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, in a letter handed over to Mr Goyal personally by MPs, assured safety and security of railway property and personnel.
“The state government stands fully committed towards ensuring the safety and security of railway properties in Punjab. It is pertinent to mention that there has been no incident of arson or damage to rail property during the current farmers” agitation,” Amarinder Singh said in his letter.
“We will deploy adequate police and security personnel along with RPF during day and night to ensure full protection to railway personnel and property,” the CM said, urging the Railway minister to restore rail traffic in Punjab.
Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said Punjab government has given an assurance that all blockades on rail premises by protesters will be cleared by Friday.
Heated discussions marked a meeting between Congress Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal over the restoration of train traffic in the state, with four of them staging a walkout over the minister’s remarks.
Sources said four of the eight Congress MPs — Gurpreet Singh Aujla, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Santokh Choudhary and Mohammed Sadique — walked out after tempers flared over Mr Goyal accusing the Congress government in Punjab of “provoking and aiding farmers” to protest against the Central government”s farm laws, that led to disruption of rail traffic.
The four Congress MPs who stayed back at the meeting were Preneet Kaur, Manish Tewari, Amar Singh and Jasbir Singh Gill.
The BJP delegation that met him included Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, party national general secretary Tarun Chug, spokesperson RP Singh and Punjab unit president Ashwani Sharma. In a letter to the railway minister, Mr Sharma alleged that the Congress government held Punjab “under siege” and was playing politics over the issue.
“We request immediate redressal by your august office to take a undertaking from the state government for security and protection to start goods and passenger trains with immediate effect. The common man is reeling under a great economic stress,” he said.