Expressing concern over the continued suspension of goods trains even after easing of the blockade by farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday wrote an open letter to BJP national president J.P. Nadda, calling for “collective will and statesmanship to resolve the festering imbroglio that could have dangerous consequences not just for the state but the entire nation”.
Responding with pain and anguish to several recent statements and comments of various BJP national and Punjab leaders on the farmers’ protests, particularly the continued suspension of goods trains by the railways, the Chief Minister stressed that “this was neither the time nor the occasion to indulge in political confrontation or allegations or counter-allegations”.
“What is needed at this critical moment is for all of us to put aside any temptations we may be harbouring to promote our political interests,” he said, adding that it is, on the contrary, “time for all of us to rise above political considerations and to respond as statesmen, to a situation that threatens to spiral irrevocable out of control, if immediate steps are not taken to stem the tide”.
Citing the repercussions of the continued suspension of goods trains services would have for national security, in addition to the critical shortages faced not just by Punjab but also Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, the Chief Minister warned that the armed forces were likely to be badly affected with the onset of winter, as they could run out of supplies and other requisites once the snowfall blocks the roads to Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley.
“These are dangers that neither the Central government nor any political party, including the BJP, can choose to ignore,” he said, adding “the onus lies on all of us.We need to all liaise together, with the common goal of solving the contentious issue, in the interest of the country”.
Referring to the losses caused in Punjab due to the prolonged blockade, Amarinder Singh said every day of the continued suspension of goods trains meant critical losses to the industry, agriculture and overall economy, in view of critical shortages of power, urea and DAP stocks.
As for the consequences for the national security, he noted that if the armed forces are deprived of critical supplies, amid the increasingly aggressive overtures from both China and Pakistan, the situation could become extremely dangerous for the country.
Even Punjab could become more vulnerable to security threats from Pakistan if the current crisis around the farmers is not resolved at the earliest, he warned, noting that ISI-backed terror groups were perpetually looking at exploiting any unrest in Punjab.
The Chief Minister termed as distressing recent remarks of various BJP leaders to the prevailing crisis situation, taking specific note of the statements of BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh and Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma.
The Chief Minister expressed surprise over the reason of “uncertainty and safety of train operations’ cited by the Railways to not allow goods trains’ movement through Punjab despite the easing of blockade by farmers.