More than 400 trains stands cancelled since April 5, 2023 on the Kharagpur-Tatanagar and Adra-Chandil sections of the South Eastern Railways in West Bengal to press their demands of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, currently included in the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category. On Saturday (today), more than 72 trains were cancelled. Thousands of protesters are sitting on the tracks obstructing the movement of trains.
Immense harassment is being caused to the passengers who are stranded and are totally at the mercy of God as there seems to be no positive responce from the agitators. The blockades are being held at Khemasuli in West Midnapore and Kustaur in Purulia.
The Kurmi leaders have threated to intensify the on going agitation if their demands were not granted, “We agree that the passengers are being harassed and they are stranded but the onus lies upon the government sitting silent on our genuine demand”, said a Kurmi leader. The protestors are also demanding a recognition to ‘Sarna’ religion and inclusion of Kurmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
Long-distance trains including mail and express trains were cancelled due to the agitation staged by the Kurmi protesters, which entered its third day on Friday. Satabdi Express and Howrah-Bhuwaneswar Express also include in the list of cancelled trains.
Security has been intensified across the route. Heavy deployment of police, and para military forces at the railway stations, tracks and roads as agitators are gradually taking to streets and paralysing the traffic at strategic locations. Large number of women police contingent have also been deployed in these places.
According to South Eastern Railway officials, both long-distance and local passengers are suffering immensely suffered due to the rail blockade. Things can get grave as emergency services may get disturbed.
However, things seems to turn grave and the ordeal of stranded passengers not be over soon as political parties like Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have jumped in support of the Kurmi agitators and make this agitation a political agenda.
These protesters are seeking public support but they totally forget that common people have neither political agenda nor anti Kurmi mentality but by holding the rail movement hostage they are creating a big harassment for the passengers who may have emergency to reach to their destinations. Such agitations should be crushed but it’s indeed a surprise to see the attitude of the state government.