Punjab under close watch; rail, road services restored
Road and rail traffic in Punjab was back to normal on Wednesday with no violence being reported in the state overnight. But security forces continued to keep a close watch on the central region, which was most affected by the violence triggered by the killing of a Sikh religious leader in a clash in a gurdwara in Vienna.
District authorities in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Phagwara and Malout (in Muktsar district of southwest Punjab) were planning to relax the curfew imposed there for a few hours Wednesday. Curfew in these towns was relaxed for two to four hours on Tuesday.
The state had witnessed widespread violence Sunday and Monday with followers of the Dera Sachh Khand sect damaging public and private property to protest the attack on their leaders in the Austrian capital on Sunday.
While sect head Niranjan Dass was recovering in a Vienna hospital, his second-in-command Rama Nand Dass was killed in the attack.
Thousands of stranded railway passengers heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday as railway authorities started running some of the trains passing through Punjab after two days of disruption.
"We began restarting train services through Punjab, especially from Jammu and Amritsar sides, Tuesday evening. Trains will also run from the Delhi-Ambala side today," a railway official said here.
Nearly 15,000 passengers, most of them coming back from the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi in neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir, were the worst affected due to disruption of train services.
Passengers coming from Pakistan on the Samjhauta Express peace train are likely to be taken to New Delhi Wednesday after being stranded at the Attari railway station, 30 km from Amritsar.
Hundreds of railway passengers were still stranded in stations in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Phagwara.
Railway authorities had cancelled or terminated nearly 40 trains passing through Punjab on Tuesday.
Though limited traffic was seeing plying on national and state highways and other Tuesday as people feared more violent protests, more vehicles could be seen moving Wednesday after near normalcy returned to the state on Tuesday.
Hundreds of goods trucks, which were also stranded due to the violence, started leaving for their destinations Wednesday.
Army, paramilitary and Punjab police personnel continued to patrol the areas worst affected by violence.
Three people were killed and dozens injured in the violence.