As many as 65 trains cancelled and many more delayed, all because an actor baba can't find a theatre to run his new film. The followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh continue with their rail-and-road blockades since Friday to get 'MSG-2: The Messenger' a Punjab-wide release.
Undeterred by heavy rain, the followers of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda continued laying siege to the railway tracks under the Multanina over bridge here, blocking the Bathinda-Bikaner-Surtagarh, Bathinda-Sirsa-Hisar-Rewari, Bathinda-Jind-Delhi, and Bathinda-Ambala routes. All trains approaching Bathinda from these four tracks were stopped at Katar Singh Wala on the Delhi route. Ambala divisional railway manager Dinesh Kumar said 13 trains of his division running from Bathinda had been cancelled, five short terminated, four cancelled partially, and 16 diverted. He, however, said some of these trains might resume, as blockade near Ludhiana is expected to be lifted at light.
Bathinda railway station superintendent Pradeep Sharma said that besides the express trains, the passenger and goods trains had also been cancelled. "Of the 42 express trains that run to and from Bathinda on a daily basis, many were diverted or short terminated at Katar Singh Wala nearby," he said. In Ferozepur, all trains on the Ludhiana, Bathinda and Fazilka sections were cancelled and two on the Bathinda-Fazilka route diverted. In this division, 52 trains were cancelled on the different routes and four short terminated. Even women and children sat since 4am on dharnas at the Ferozepur-Fazilka level crossing and on a border road nearby. All trains, up or down, on this route were cancelled.
The talks between the dera followers and the Bathinda district administration on Sunday were fruitless. "They want screening in at least one theatre. There is no ban on the movie, and cinema-house owners are free to screen it, if they want. How can we force anyone?" said deputy commissioner Basant Garg, adding: "We have even kept buses on standby to ferry show-ticket holders from Katar Singh Wala to Bathinda."
In Moga, hundreds of dera followers laid siege to the national highways-95 and -71, besides the Ferozepur-Ludhiana railway tracks near Bughipura square. Several trains, including the Moga-Delhi Shatabdi Express and the Ferozepur-Chandigarh Express were affected. The protesters also blocked traffic on the Moga-Ludhiana and Jalandhar-Delhi national highways here.
Bathinda-Chandigarh road shut for 7 hours
PATIALA/SANGRUR: Dera Sacha Sauda followers blocked the Bathinda-Chandigarh road for seven hours in a massive protest here against the alleged unofficial ban on MSG-2 in the state. "Though the state government had not banned the movie officially, it has directed the district administration to ask cinema owners not to screen the film," alleged a dera follower.
(With inputs from Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar and Surinder Mann)