Train services in South Eastern Railway’s (SER) Kharagpur division were affected Monday owing to a blockade by an umbrella organisation of the adivasis demanding recognition of their language.
Members of the Bharat Jakat Majhi Marwa squatted on railway tracks at Balichak, Nekusini, Salboni, Chattna and Khamasuli affecting train movement, an SER spokesperson said. As a result, several mail, express and local trains were stuck at various stations of Kharagpur-Howrah, Kharagpur-Tatanagar, Kharagpur-Bhadrak and Kharagpur-Adra sections. SER authorities made arrangements for drinking water at major stations for the stranded passengers.
“We want the state government to recognise our language. But nothing has been done so far. We want the government to give special focus to the education and overall development of the adivasi community,” said Rabin Tudu, a member of the organisation.
Meanwhile, seven people were arrested for allegedly vandalising Belda station in the wake of the protest. In a video clip aired by a television news channel, some miscreants, with their faces covered, could be seen vandalising the Belda station, including the signalling system. Seven people have been arrested for their involvement in the attack, police sources said.
Protest was also staged at Howrah station after several trains were cancelled. Passengers, especially candidates, who are on their way to appear for Railway examinations for Group D staff in Bhubaneshwar, registered their protest at the station enquiry. In an attempt to help, the Railway Recruitment Board has made a provision as per which those candidates who would not be able to appear for the examination on Tuesday due to the blockade shall be allowed to take the examination at a later date, sources said.
The agitators put up rail and road blockades in districts of East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Jhargram, Hooghly, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Birbhum, East Burdwan and Purulia.
SER spokesperson Sanjoy Ghosh told The Indian Express that several mail, express and local trains were still stranded at several stations as blockades were on. “We cannot give you an exact figures of how many trains are stranded but all trains coming from South Indian states are stranded in the Kharagpur division,” Ghosh said.
State education minister Partha Chatterjee, however, put the blame on SER authorities for not being able to lift the blockade. “Where is the RPF now? What were they doing when the blockade was put up? There is something fishy about this. We are monitoring the situation,” the minister said.
The SER spokesperson said they are constantly keeping touch with the state government to end the impasse.
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