Protesters block train traffic in Punjab

Friday, November 6, 2009

LUDHIANA - Rail traffic on the busy Amritsar-New Delhi section was severely affected Friday morning as protesters, who are seeking justice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, stopped trains at various places. Hundreds of railway passengers were stranded.

Railway authorities had to stop over half a dozen trains at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana after protesters blocked railway tracks. Some of the trains were diverted.

Passengers had a harrowing time as there was no formal announcement that the trains would be blocked.

Several trains have been affected at various places in Punjab. They have been forced to stop at various stations. Some of them have been diverted through other stations, H.K. Jaggi, divisional railway manager (DRM) for the Ambala division, told IANS.

The DRM added that railway authorities were trying to make arrangements to provide food and water to the passengers who have been stranded at various places because of the protests.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has supported the protests. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar joined the protesters in Ludhiana.

The protesters stopped the Amritsar-New Delhi Swarn Shatabdi Express at the Ludhiana railway station Friday morning, officials said.

The train, which left Amritsar early Friday, was stranded near Ludhiana station with over 600 Delhi-bound passengers for over three hours, police officials said. Railway authorities said that they were trying to send the train through Dhuri for its onward journey.

Police and railway officials were trying to persuade the protesters to lift the blockade and allow the trains to proceed.

The Sachkhand Express was stopped by protesters at Goraya station between Jalandhar and Ludhiana. The Amritsar-Hardwar Jan Shatabdi was stopped at Beas town, 40 km from Amritsar.

Railway officials said that some trains were not allowed to leave Jalandhar station.

Over 3,000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi and other places across India in anti-Sikh riots that broke out following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards on Oct 31, 1984.

Sikh organisations have lamented that even 25 years after the carnage, the guilty have not been punished.

Radical Sikh organisations led by Dal Khalsa and Khalsa Action Committee had successfully organised a strike in Punjab Nov 3 demanding justice for the riot victims.

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