For almost five months now, a rail blockade by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee has ensured that no trains ply between Amritsar and Beas. Even when there is no Rail Roko call by farmer unions, this blockade near Jandiala Guru for the past 149 days now has hit 60 per cent train traffic from the border town of Amritsar.
In fact, KMSC is the only farm union in Punjab that is continuing with its indefinite dharna on railway tracks, while the others ended their rail blockades in Punjab in the last week of November to focus on the Delhi Morcha.
“Our protest near the Jandiala Guru station will continue. Our dharna at Jandiala Guru had started on September 24 and it has completed 148 days. Soon, it will complete five months. We have no objection over goods trains. But we will not allow passenger trains,” said KMSC general secretary Swaran Singh Pandher. The dharna is near the Jandiala Guru station but not on the railway track.
A leader of the SKM, an umbrella body of protesting farmer unions, said: “There is no wisdom in blocking Amritsar-Beas railways track. It has no impact as railway tracks in rest of Punjab are open. KMSC just wants to remain in the headlines. This is why they violated Kisan Parade route on Republic day. Their actions are hurting the farmers’ agitation. Their decision to not remain in line with other farmer unions creates an impression that we are not united. Their unwanted dharna near Jandiala Guru is hurting the common passengers without any output.”
Meanwhile, the Railways has been running some trains on alternative route via Tarn Taran. However, the blockade has prevented the Railways from running its operations on full-throttle from Amritsar station.
“Our 60 per cent business from Amritsar station is affected. Shatabadi and many other important trains are suspended for last five months. There are some trains which run from Ambala instead of Amritsar. But most of the trains are suspended. Our alternative route via Tarn Taran hasn’t got the capacity to take all the load for us to run all the trains,” said Sudhir Kumar, DMO, Ferozepur Range of the Railways.
Though the KMSC said it has no objection to goods trains running between Amritsar and Beas, Railways is not using this track for any kind of movement.
“We need the full track. But KMSC is saying that they would first check the train if it is a goods or a passenger train and then allow it to pass. So we decided to halt all kind of movement between Amritsar and Beas. It is affecting our 60 per cent traffic from Amritsar,” said Sudhir Kumar.
Pandher added: “We have no objection over goods trains running. It is Railways decision to not run goods strains. We will stop only passenger trains.”
Due to four hours Rail Roko on Thursday, Malwa Express coming from Jammu was stopped at Pathankot Cantt station. Vande Mataram India, which had left Pathankot Cantt, was halted at Bari Brahmana. Shahid Express is stuck at the Amritsar railways station due to protest.
On Thursday, the KMSC participated in Rail Roko in 11 districts including Amritsar and Tarn Taran. “We staged protest at the 32 places on railways tracks,” said Pandher.
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