Protests in Chhattisgarh over extension of Rajdhani Express to Kolkata

February 27th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyRaipur, Feb 27 (IANS) Hundreds of young men squatted on the rail tracks in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur town for the second consecutive day Friday, protesting against the extension of the New Delhi-Bilaspur Rajdhani Express to Kolkata, as they feel they will have less space on the train now.
Railway officials said the protesters held up the train for about 30 minutes Thursday and squatted on the tracks during the early hours of Friday demanding immediate scrapping of the extension plan.

“The railways decision is total injustice to Chhattisgarh. Now the state will have a limited berth quota with majority of seats reserved for Kolkata,” said Shyam Pandey, a protester.

The New Delhi-Bilaspur Rajdhani Express, the lone fully air-conditioned train that connects Chhattisgarh to the national capital, runs twice a week. The train has been extended to Kolkata from this week.

“The train has been extended to Howrah for three months on experimental basis, we are in talks with protesters to convince them that it’s a logical decision to extend the train rather than keeping it for eight hours at Bilaspur,” chief public relation officer of South East Central Railway Santosh Kumar told IANS on phone from Bilaspur.

The protests have not affected rail traffic so far but railway officials say the movement may snowball into a major protest as the protesters are supported by all the political parties of the state including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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