26 trains cancelled as rail blockade turns violent in Jharkhand - Hindustan Times
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26 trains cancelled as rail blockade turns violent in Jharkhand

By, Jamshedpur
Sep 20, 2023 09:27 PM IST

The Adivasi Kurmi Samaj (AKS) has called for an indefinite ‘Rail Teka-Dagar Chheka’ (rail blockade movement) at eight railway stations across Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha from September 20.

The Railways on Wednesday evening cancelled 26 trains crossing through Jharkhand after violence erupted during the first day of the indefinite rail blockade called by the Kurmi community to press their demand of inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST).

Violence erupted during the first day of the indefinite rail blockade called by the Kurmi community (HT photo)
Violence erupted during the first day of the indefinite rail blockade called by the Kurmi community (HT photo)

The Adivasi Kurmi Samaj (AKS), however, later withdrew the movement statewide after a meeting was scheduled with Jharkhand chief secretary on September 25 and with the Union home secretary on October 2 to discuss their demands, people aware of the development said late Wednesday night.

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“We have withdrawn our ‘Rail teka Dahar Chheka’ Rail Blockade movement from Gomoh under the Dhanbad division and Muri under the Ranchi division. The decision to withdraw the agitation came after the central government proposed a meeting with AKS leadership at New Delhi on October 2 and another meeting with the Jharkhand chief secretary Sukhdev Singh at Ranchi on September 25 on our demand of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Kurmi community and inclusion of Kurmali language in the 8th schedule of the Constitution,” Harmohan Mahato, AKS central spokesperson, told HT late Wednesday evening over phone from Muri.

“We have vacated Muri station,” Mahato said, adding that they were communicating with the leaders and workers at Ghaghra, Amlanuri, Nimdih in Jharkhand and Bhanjupur in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha about the decision to withdraw the agitation.

“All stations will be vacated shortly,” added Mahato.

The Dhanbad deputy commissioner (DC) Varun Ranjan handed over the letter of proposed meeting with the state chief secretary Sukhdev Singh at Gomoh, following which the Kurmi activists withdrew their movement and vacated the railway tracks.

“Dhanbad DC discussed the demand of AKS for inclusion of the Kurmi community in the ST list and Kurmali language in the 8th schedule with the state chief secretary and proposed a meeting to resolve the issue. The chief secretary has granted time from 10.30 to 11.00 am on September 25 for the meeting,” the letter to AKS chief adviser Ajit Prasad Mahato and other leaders and signed by Dhanbad additional district magistrate (ADM law & order) and Dhanbad division ADRM Vineet Kumar stated.

The Adivasi Kurmi Samaj (AKS) has called for an indefinite ‘Rail Teka-Dagar Chheka’ (rail blockade movement) at eight railway stations across Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha from September 20.

The West Bengal faction of AKS withdrew from the agitation late Tuesday night following the Calcutta High Court’s order declaring their blockade “illegal and unconstitutional”. The HC directed the West Bengal government to ensure protection of railway property, smooth train movement and security to passengers.

In Jharkhand, however, the impact was all too visible.

Chandil subdivisional officer (SDO) Ranjit Lohra imposed Section 144 in Nimdih and on the Raghunathpur-Patamda road late Tuesday night. Despite this, hundreds of agitators from the neighbouring Purulia district in West Bengal and Patamda, Bodam, Chandil, and Nimdih marched towards the railway station Wednesday morning amid the deployment of state police, magistrates and the railway police personnel, officials said.

On Wednesday morning, the agitators, including women and children, were seen rushing towards Nimdih station under the Adra division of the Railways.

However, the police stopped them near the Nimdih crossing on the Raghunathpur-Patamda road, resulting in arguments between the activists, the police and the RPF. The police resorted to lathi charge after agitators pelted stones at them.

“This eventually led to a lathi charge by the police. The angry demonstrators then started pelting stones at the police force, but were dispersed,” said an official close to the developments.

Officials said hundreds of activists broke through police barricades and RPF deployment near Muri under the Ranchi division and succeeded in reaching the station.

Earlier, they were seen blocking railway tracks far away from the station but later sat in dharna at the station itself. Kurmi activists successfully blocked the railway tracks at Ghaghra station near Manoharpur from 9 am on Wednesday, leaving several trains stranded and train traffic in complete disarray, officials said.

“Kurmi activists have blocked tracks at Amlanuri in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, Ghaghra in West Singhbhum district, Muri in Ranchi district in Jharkhand since Wednesday morning,” said Gajraj Singh, senior divisional commercial manager (Sr. DCM), Chakradharpur.

“At least 10 trains had to be cancelled by afternoon.”

All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) Party legislator Lambodar Mahto was detained during the agitation at Muri railway station.

Confirming the detention, deputy superintendent of police, Kristopher Kerketta, said he has been kept at Silli police station and would be released at night.

According to a South Eastern Railways notification on Wednesday evening, 26 mail, express, and passenger trains have been cancelled.

The Ranchi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express has been diverted via Lohardaga-Tori, Hatia-Islampur Express via Ranchi-Tatizikwai-Mesra-Barkakana-Hazaribagh Town-Koderma, and Ranchi-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus diverted through Lohardaga-Tori and Islampur Hatia via Koderma-Hazaribagh Town.

Howrah-CSMT Duronto has been diverted via Kharagpur-Bhadrak-Jajpur-Keonjhar. Yog Nagari Rishikesh-Puri Express and Parana-Ranchi Vande Bharat Express have also been diverted.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Debashish Sarkar is a special correspondent based in Jamshedpur. He has been covering government, administration, politics and crime among other things.

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