The rail blockade by Greater Cooch Behar People’s Party (GCPA), an outfit demanding the creation of a separate Cooch Behar state, claimed the life of a train passenger on Sunday, even as several long distance trains were cancelled.
A youth from Bihar’s Kishanganj, Binay Kumar Thakur, died of a heart attack on board the Down Kanchenjunga Express. He was travelling with his wife, Archana. The train was running hours behind schedule. The couple had boarded it at Guwahati where he used to run a business. Binay suffered the stroke near Kokrajhar and died before the train entered Alipurduar. They were in a general second class coach. All trains passing through New Cooch Behar were diverted during the day via Alipurduar, a route that passes through elephant corridors. This further delayed the trains.
“The situation is likely to worsen on Monday because more trains might be cancelled if the blockade continues,” Sanjiv Kumar, the divisional railway manager of Alipurduar, told HT. “The blockade has already choked the railway lines in the region and may affect other divisions too if it continues,” Kumar said. Diversion of trains through the elephant corridors increased the worries of both the railways and the forest department. The trains have many restrictions and run slowly through the Alipurduar-Sevok-New Jalpaiguri route.
While GCPA vowed to continue the blockade, the Trinamool continued to oppose the demand for a separate state, even as the CPI(M) and its Left Front ally, Forward Bloc, blamed the Trinamool and the BJP for the unrest in the region.
Bangshi Badan Bar man, GCPA general secretary, told HT, “The blockade will continue till Delhi gives an assurance about creating the separate Cooch Behar state.”
The GCPA has been agitating for a Cooch Behar state since 2000. It hogged the limelight after three policemen, including an IPS officer, and two of its supporters died on September 20, 2005, when its indefinite hunger-strike turned violent after four days.
Earlier, Barman was jailed on May 25, 2006. He was released from prison by the Trinamool government a year after it came to power, on December 17, 2012. Since then, he was believed to be close to the ruling party. However, Barman said on Sunday, “The demand for the separate state comprising areas of the erstwhile Cooch Behar kingdom is related with the Centre. Therefore, we want the Centre to come forward and meet our demand.”