Sikh protestors disrupt rail traffic in Punjab (Lead)

April 8th, 2009 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Chandigarh, April 8 (IANS) Several trains going through Punjab were stopped and many delayed as protesters, angry over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) exonerating Congress leader Jagdish Tytler of involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, squatted on tracks in several places in the state.
Forced to carry their luggage in some places, hundreds of passengers were inconvenienced with important trains like the long-distance Flying Express from Amritsar to Darbhanga cancelled and others such as the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi and the Dadar-Amritsar Express delayed.

Reports came in that Punjab Police personnel and district authorities remained mute spectators at several places and made no efforts to move the protestors from the the railway tracks.

The call for the ‘rail roko’ (stop trains) protest was given by radical Sikh organisations like Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj and Sikh Students Federation, a day after the 1984 riots came back in the reckoning following a Sikh journalist lobbing a shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram over the Congress stance on the issue.

Punjab’s ruling Akali Dal had announced a reward of Rs.200,000 for the journalist, Jarnail Singh.

The protests ended at 4 p.m., minimising the chaos to some extent.

In Amritsar, about 250 km from here, the Flying Express was stopped by the authorities as the protestors blocked the rail tracks a little ahead. Other fast trains like the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi, Malwa Express and Dadar-Amritsar Express were delayed.

However, most other trains remained unaffected in the Amritsar area as the trains had left before the demonstrators blocked the rail tracks.

“Around 50-60 Sikh agitators had gathered since morning. Taking advance precautionary measures, the administration here stopped the Flying Express on its own. Police personnel have also been deployed at various sensitive places of the city,” Darshan Kumar, deputy superintendent of police of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), told IANS.

The situation was similar in Jalandhar, 150 km from here, where the Amritsar-Ludhiana passenger train was stopped near Dakoha village by agitators.

Passengers heading to Jalandhar and Amritsar had to alight from the stranded train and carry their luggage till National Highway 1 to take other modes of road transport to reach their destinations.

Here also, the police were present in good numbers but they neither removed the protestors nor helped the passengers to reach the highway.

The administration in Jalandhar stopped the Jamnagar-Jammu train at the Cheheru station here to avoid any further inconvenience to the passengers, disclosed an RPF official.

Another passenger train was stopped by protestors near Ferozepur town, 275 km from here.

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