The Jat quota agitation in Haryana, which resulted in army deployment and curfew in some areas, led to cancellation or abrupt termination of around 50 trains of the key Ambala railway division, including two Shatabdi Express trains and 22 others having a halt at Chandigarh, on Friday. In all, over 140 trains in the state were either cancelled or terminated ahead of their destination. Road transport was overburdened as a result. Till further orders, now, these trains would remain cancelled as there is no clear sign of the protest and track blockades being removed.
About buses, Haryana Roadways officials refused to confirm any cancellations but there were instances wherein passengers informed of routes being cancelled.
Divisional railway manager (DRM) for Ambala, Dinesh Kumar, said, “All the trains on the Ambala-Panipat-Delhi routes are being blocked; we are helpless even as a number of stranded passengers are calling up to complain. We are worried but the same situation will prevail till the protestors remain on the tracks.” On the road traffic, he said, “As per our knowledge, the highways are all open, but link roads are closed.”
Meanwhile, the InterState Bus Ter minus (ISBT) in Chandigarh’s Sector 17 witnessed hug e r ush late evening on Friday, and there was panic since the bus conductors and drivers said they would not take responsibility if the buses were stopped midway.
One of the passengers, Shifali Chhabra, said, “I have to reach Gurgaon by 8.30 Saturday morning as I have a job interview at 9.30am sharp; but now the bus drivers are saying the buses may be stopped midway. I am going anyway by bus, taking a risk during late hours.”
Besides the trains cancelled or short-terminated, routes of at least four in the Ambala division were diverted.
Those cancelled included the Amritsar-New Delhi Intercity Express (12490), Amritsar-New Delhi (12030), Amritsar-Jaynagar (Bangalore) (14674), Vaishno Devi ( Katra)- Delhi ( 14034), Jammu Tawi to Ajmer (12414), Jammu Tawi- Pune ( 11078), Jammu Tawi-New Delhi (12426), Vaishno Devi (Katra)-New Delhi (12446), Vaishno Devi (Katra)Chennai (16032), Vaishno Devi (Katra)-New Delhi (22462) and Hoshiarpur-Delhi (14012). Others that got cancelled included the Chandigarh-Indore, the Kalka-Howrah Mail, Chandigarh-Yeswantpur, Chandigarh-Madgaon Express, Ambala-Andaura Himachal Express, Chandigarh-Jaipur Intercity, Chandigarh-New Delhi Shatabdi and the Unchahar Express.
The trains that got diverted were Jammu Tawi- Indore ( 12920), Jammu Tawi- Durg (18216), Vaishno Devi (Katra)Mumbai (12472) and Amritsar-Ajmer (19614).
The trains cancelled that specifically have a halt at Chandigarh railway station were the Himalayan Queen, Chandigarh-Delhi Shatabdi Express, Chandigarh-Indore, and Kalka Shatabdi Express — were cancelled; and the Shatabdi from Delhi for Chandigarh that started at 12.30pm was reportedly halted at Panipat and returned to its origin station.
Ravinder Singh, who was in a long queue at the Sector-17 bus stand, said, “I have a flight to catch for Australia from Delhi at 6am on Saturday, and have to enter the airport by 3am! But the rush is increasing and the bus conductors are saying they won’t be responsible if the bus is stopped anywhere around Panipat area or even before that.”
However, ticket-sellers at the bus stand said no bus had been stopped so far on the GT Road from Chandigarh to Delhi. They added that all the link roads are blocked.