Sikh protesters block rail tracks, disrupt train movement

Malout (MOT): Movement of nearly a dozen trains on Ganganagar-Bathinda section was affected on Friday after residents of this township staged a dharna at the railway station for halt of two trains – Ganganagar-Nanded Sahib and Bikaner-Sarai Rohila at Malout.

Hundreds of protesters, including traders, descended on the tracks at 10am and were still protesting at the time of filing of this report. A massive dharna forced the authorities to stop trains at Bathinda, Gidderbaha and Ganganagar railway stations. Malout residents have been on protest since April 13.

“We went on hunger strike from May 6 to 21 but it had no impact of the authorities so we decided to disrupt the rail traffic today,” said Rail Thahrao Sangharsh Committee convener Sukhdev Singh Gill. He claimed there was complete bandh in Malout as the residents want the two train to stop here.

While Ganganagar-Nanded train reaches here at 4.30pm, Bikaner-Sarai Rohila train’s arrival time is 5.15am. “As business activities of the traders here are linked to those in Delhi and Rajasthan, both these trains suit the business class. However, in the absence of stoppage at Malout, we have to go either to Bathinda or Abohar to board these trains,” said cloth merchant Prem Kumar.

Train passengers, though, were a harried lot. Naresh Kumar, who was among those stranded in Bathinda, claimed, “Hundreds of train passengers had to face a lot of hardship on this summer day due to the rail blockade. I had to reach Abohar for an urgent work but had to cancel the visit.”

Muktsar deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh said, “I have forwarded their demand to the railway authorities and it is for railway authorities to take a decision in this regard.”

Ambala Divisional Railway Manager A K Kathpal said, “We have cancelled nearly a dozen trains for the day on Ganganagar-Bathinda section due to the protest held by Malout residents. The protesters need to take up the matter with the railway ministry and causing inconvenience to passengers is not the right thing to do.”