Notwithstanding the railways' "betrayal"to flag off an express train to Nanded in Maharashtra from Nangal, instead of Una, on October 3, hundreds of local residents led by Bharatiya Janata Party state unit president and MLA Satpal Singh Satti halted Himachal Express at Una Railway Station for around 10 minutes on Saturday night to register their protest.
During his Budget speech, former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had announced the express train between Una and Nanded - a city famous for a Sikh religious shrine. On the contrary, according to a new railways' timetable, the train will now run between Nangal in Punjab and Nanded from October 3. The train will elude the hill state and will terminate at Nangal, around 16 km from Una.
Satti along with activists of the BJP, Una Jan Hit Morcha, Beopar Mandal, Sports Associations and other local social bodies squatted on the railway tracks around 8.50 pm - the scheduled departure of the train from Una to Delhi forcing to delay by 10 minutes. The train, however, left the station at 9 pm.
Addressing the activists and passengers before the arrival of the train, Satti blamed the Center for delaying the completion of the 88-km-long Nangal-Una-Talwara broad gauge line project, the foundation stone for which was laid down around 60 years ago.
He said there was lack of basic facilities like rain shed, canteen and toilet at the Una station while the reservation counter operated on a single shift basis.
In addition, he said, electrification of the Una to Amb track was not done despite repeated assurances by several railway ministers, who kept on visiting Una for inaugurating Una, Chururu and Amb stations from time-to-time.
Though the railways authorities were informed in advance about the Saturday's protest, but all they did was to send a junior official from Nangal along with a posse of policemen.
The officer, however, assured Satti that he would pass on their demands in writing to his seniors at the divisional railways manager office in Ambala.
Satti warned the official that if the train had not been extended to Una, they would intensify the protest.