Heat over the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar took steam out of railway traffic on Sunday here.
Protesting against the verdict, the families of the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and members of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) on Sunday blocked traffic on the Amritsar-New Delhi railway line.
At 5.30am, armed with swords, they stopped the Howrah-Amritsar Mail, Andaman Express (Jammu-Chennai) and two goods trains near Gurudwara Dukhniwaran Sahib. There, women and children also joined the clamour for the execution of Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, and occupied the tracks for four hours.
Members of the Danga Peerat Welfare Society of Punjab and SSF (Mehta) also raised slogans against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi. "We should be given compensation and the killers should be awarded death penalty. We wait for justice," said Harwinder Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib, who said he had lost loved ones in the 1984 riots after the killing of prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"Sikhs have been denied justice for 29 years," said Paramjit Singh Khalsa, president of the SSF (Mehta). "We oppose the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar. The Centre has discriminated against us."
Demanding justice from the President, the president of the Danga Peerat Welfare Society of Punjab, Surjit Singh, said that the Chief Justice of India should make a special committee for fair and fresh investigation of the riots. "The trial should run in fast-track courts and the guilty should be executed," he said.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president, Avtar Singh Makkar, later, came over and called off the protest at 9.30am after performing a prayer for justice. "The central bureau of investigation (CBI) is the Centre's puppet, and so it will only save the killers of Sikhs," said Makkar. "The SGPC will hire best lawyers in the country to fight the case afresh."
Protesters sing hymns, passengers curse
Thousands of passengers on board the interrupted trains waited in frustration, as protesters sang hymns on the railway tracks.
Trains were halted at different stations because the lines were not clear. "The Shatabdi Express was held back at Phagwara and the Garib Rath Express at Phillaur during the blockade in Ludhiana," said Ludhiana station superintendent Ravinder Sharma.
While these trains and the Begampura Express to Jammu Tawi were delayed by four hours, the Amritsar-Chandigarh Express was late by three-hours-and-a-half; Shan-e-Punjab from Delhi to Amritsar by an hour; and the Shatabadi Express from Amritsar to New Delhi by three hours.
Earlier in the day, the protestors gathered at Gurudwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in Ludhiana, and as they marched out from there to stop the trains, the police made no effort to prevent them. The police acted only after the trains had been stopped. The protest was planned an announced a day ago.
Trains stopped Delay
Howrah-Amritsar Mail 4 hours
Andaman Express (Jammu-Chennai) 4 hours
Two goods trains 4 hours
Not stopped but affected Delay
Begampura Express to Jammu Tawi 4 hours
Amritsar-Chandigarh Express 3 hrs 30m
Shatabadi Express (Amritsar to New Delhi) 3 hours
Shan-e-Punjab (Delhi to Amritsar) 1 hour