Bhubaneswar: Several trains under the purview of SER and ECoR were cancelled or diverted Wednesday, including the premium Rajdhani Express and Vande Bharat Express, owing to the blockade by members of the Kurmi community in Jharkhand and Odisha, officials said.
A total of seven trains were cancelled and nine others diverted, the South Eastern Railway (SER) said in a release.
The trains that were diverted “due to ongoing agitation by Kurmi Samaj” include the Patna-Ranchi Vande Bharat Express and Howrah-Mumbai Duronto Express, while those cancelled were the Howrah-Mumbai Gitanjali Express and Hatia-Kharagpur Express, among others, it said.
Meanwhile, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) in another release said a number of trains have been cancelled and diverted for the day, which include the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Duronto Express and Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express.
“Agitation by Kudmi Adivasi Samaj, which was cancelled yesterday as per the directions of Hon’ble High Court of Kolkata, has taken a new turn today with agitation taking place at various places in Jharkhand like Manoharpur near Chakradharpur, Gomoh and at other places near Muri,” it said.
A division bench of the Calcutta High Court, headed by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam, had Tuesday declared the call for indefinite rail and road blockades by the Kurmi community as illegal and unconstitutional.
Several Kurmi bodies had earlier announced the stir at nine stations in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha from Wednesday, including Muri, Gomoh, Nimdih, Khemasuli, Kustaur and Harichandanpur, seeking Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the community, and inclusion of Kurmali language in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
In Jharkhand, defying prohibitory orders, several agitators marched to the Muri Railway Station and sat on railway tracks, the officials said.
Police also lathicharged protestors near the Nimdih railway crossing in Seraikela-Kharswan district when they attempted to put up blockades, Sub-Divisional Officer of Chandil, Ranjit Lohra said.
Convenor of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj (AKS) Harmohan Mahato claimed that over a dozen of its activists were detained at Nimdih. Members of the Totemik Kurmi Vikas Morcha (TKVM) reportedly sat on the tracks at Ghagra station in West Singhbhum district Wednesday morning, the officials said.
In Ranchi’s Muri, around 500 agitators were stopped by security forces at a certain distance from the station, officials said.
“Adequate forces have been deployed at Muri to prevent the agitators from disrupting train movement,” Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of Ranchi Railway Division Nishant Kumar told PTI.
The district administration has also imposed prohibitory measures under CrPC Section 144 in Silli Circle near the Muri Railway Station from 6pm Tuesday till further orders, an official said. Section 144 prevents unlawful assembly of four or more persons and public movement in groups.
A report from Odisha said Kurmi Samaj activists briefly blocked tracks at Bhanjapur Railway Station in Baripada town of Mayurbhanj district Wednesday, but the rail lines were cleared and train services resumed soon.
The SER had in a release issued Tuesday said that “normal train services will be restored with immediate effect in view of the withdrawal of proposed agitation by the Kurmi community”.
The EcoR, too, had said it has decided to run trains on normal routes with immediate effect, as the Kurmi Samaj agitation “has been called off”.
Ajit Mahato, a leader of Adivasi Kurmi Samaj in West Bengal, had Tuesday said that the indefinite rail blockade called by Kurmis was withdrawn “as our senior leaders are being harassed by police. We will take a collective decision on the next course of action on September 30 in Purulia”.