It was a dream ride for Kashmiris —who have been waiting for the train service for the last century. A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged off the first train in Kashmir, thousands of people — driven by curiosity to see train and ride it for the first time — on Sunday swarmed all local railway stations between Rajwansher in Budgam district and Anantnag district.
Contrary to the ‘civil curfew’ and general shutdown observed on Saturday, every station was abuzz with activities on Sunday. Around 5,000 people turned up at the Nowgam railway station.
Many people had reached the railway station as early as 7 am, jostling for a ticket. As the train arrived at the station at 7.35 am, the passengers rushed in, pushing around for space. “All the eight bogies of the train were packed. We had capacity for 588 passengers but over 1,200 passengers rushed in,” Zubair Ahmad, station manager. “We had decided to run the train from Monday. But, in a late night decision on Sunday, we decided to run it from today only.”
Only 160 tickets were sold to passengers as for the rest, Zubair said, it was a free ride. “Seeing the rush and interest of the people, we decided to offer free ride,” said Zubair.
The first run from Rajwansher to Anantnag was smooth but in the second run the train was stopped due to security reasons. “Some firing incident had occurred near Bijbehera. We stopped the train at Pampore. Everything is ok now,” said Zubair.
For first-timers, it was an unforgettable ride. “It is a great occasion. I had never travelled by a train earlier,” said Mohammad Shafi Wani, an electrician. Like Shafi, most of the people had come for a joyride.
“I have travelled by train many times. I took the train to see the interior villages. The train passes through beautiful villages, which are usually off route. I had never seen these villages before," said Ansar Ahmad, a shawl dealer.
Curfew in downtown Srinagar
Authorities imposed curfew in parts of old Srinagar for the third day on Sunday following clashes between protestors and police. Around 30 people, including over a dozen of police and CRPF men, were injured in the clashes. Restrictions on movement were imposed at Gujawara, Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal and surrounding localities The clashes sparked off after groups of youth, protesting against the killing of two youth in police action on Saturday, took out demonstrations several parts of downtown Srinagar.