A blockade – the act of preventing goods or people from entering a place – is a frequent practice in case of hostilities between countries. Iin a curious turn of events, there are now accusations that a state within the Indian Union is being blockaded. The government of Punjab has alleged that the Union government has instituted a “rail blockade” against the state.

Punjab is referring to the fact that the Union government-run Indian railways has stopped goods trains from entering the state since October 24. The first outcome of this is that Punjab is running out of coal to power its thermal power plants. The Tribune reported that by November 3, Punjab had completely run out of coal stocks with the state having to buy power from the National Grid. As a result, the entire state is seeing extensive load shedding, with the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited cutting power from three to five hours given the severe coal crunch.

Along with coal, Punjab is now facing shortages in fertilisers, gunny bags and raw material for industry.

Farmers protest

How did such an alarming situation arise? The issue traces itself to the farmers’ agitation in Punjab against the Union government’s farm acts passed in September which seeks to further open Indian agriculture to...

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