Train services were disrupted in West Bengal's Howrah division on Wednesday after youth activists of the Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) vandalised the Srirampur station venting their ire against Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activists, who were distributing leaflets and pasting posters against Banerjee, alleged that the railways was being used to serve the "interests" of her Trinamool Congress party. The protesters even squatted on the railway tracks when some officials tried to stop them.
A railway spokesman said that Narayan Chandra Das, the station master on duty, requested the agitators not to distribute the leaflets in the station as it was dirtying the premises, but he was assaulted and his office was ransacked.
"The protestors (DYFI activists) stopped train movement. They also assaulted Das and the assistant station master and ransacked the station office, breaking two windows, the telephone, chairs and table," the spokesman said.
As a result, train services on Howrah-Bandel, Howrah-Bardhaman main line and Tarakeshwar-Seoraphuli sections were disrupted for about two hours.
DYFI state secretary Abhas Roychowdhury, however, alleged that the station master had tried to obstruct their political programme.
"He brought some anti-socials and tried to scuttle our political programme. Our cadres were only distributing a letter we have sent to President Pratibha Patil against the use of the railways to serve Trinamool's interests," Roychowdhury told IANS.
Train services resumed after the obstruction was lifted. Two express trains were detained for about one hour, while suburban services were "severely affected", the railway spokesman said.
Slamming the DYFI for "vandalising the station" and "causing hardship to the people by obstructing the tracks", Railway Minister Banerjee said: "Why are they destroying railway property just because they are opposed to me?"
"Their political fight is with me. What has the railways done? Why are they beating up railway employees?" she asked.
"People will rebuff them. The CPI-M has already been forsaken by the public. Today's events only betray the frustration of the CPI-M," the Trinamool chief said.