The Bharat Bandh call by farmer unions on Friday hit rail operations in Punjab and Haryana as protesters squatted on tracks at 44 places in both states, said Railway authorities.
While the Northern Railways had not made any prior announcements about cancellation or short termination of trains, at least four trains were cancelled, 14 short terminated, information released by Ferozepur and Ambala divisions said.
In addition to this, 5 trains remained parked at railway stations – Phagwara, Mukerian, Pathankot cantonment, Kathua and Begampura which were sent forward after 6 pm when farmers cleared the tracks. Also, 11 trains of Ferozepur railway division had to be rescheduled.
“Barring some limited number of trains in Punjab and Haryana, the bandh has had almost zero impact across the nation. Other than in these two states, around five to six trains were delayed for some time. Less than 0.5 per cent of trains impacted nationally. Trains are running smoothly,” said Railway spokesperson D J Narain.
About the situation in the evening, the Northern Railway spokesperson said that “now things have normalised”. Out of the 44 locations where rail tracks were blocked, 24 places fell under the Ferozepur division in Punjab and 30 in Ambala division in Haryana.
The trains which were cancelled included: Amritsar Shtabadi, which falls under Ferozepur division, while the other 3 trains which were called were special express trains – Delhi-Ambala, Ambala to Delhi and Ambala to Sangrur.
In addition to this 11 trains which were rescheduled were all in Ferozepur railway division out of which 8 had point of origin from Amritsar, one each were to originate from Ferozepur and Fazilka and another train was Vande Bharat that was to originate from Katra.
All of them were rescheduled after the tracks were cleared, told the office of divisional railway manager (DRM), Ferozepur. Jan Shtabadi, Paschim Express were other trains which were rescheduled.
Meanwhile, Nanded Express which started at 5.35 am from Amritsar railway station remained parked at Phagwara railway station from 7 am onwards and was started again for its destination after 6 pm. Similar was the case with Swaraj Express, which was stopped at Mukerian railway station. Three more trains were stopped midway at Kathua, Begampura and Pathankot cantonment to be run after the tracks were cleared. On February 19 as well, a rail roko had taken place and farmers protesting at few stations had even served langar to passengers who were sitting in the trains which were stopped midway.
“Similar thing was done even on Friday in Punjab as we always serve langar even to the cops who are keeping an eye on us always, so why will we leave passengers. In addition to this even on KMP expressway, many truckers had come to cross the protest point, but we did not allow them to move ahead as per the bandh call. However, we served them food, water and even provided them cots to take rest. Similar was the case with families as well who got stuck because of misinformation that road traffic will remain as normal while shops will be closed,” said Ravneet Singh Brar, spokesperson of BKU (Kadian) while talking with The Indian Express.
“We had plans to serve langar to passengers if any train was halted at Barnala railway station, but it was short terminated at Tapa due to which passengers boarded other vehicles to move ahead. They were, however, served tea,” said Narain Dutt from Inqlabi Manch from Barnala.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha had called for the bandh from 6 am to 6 pm to mark four months of the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s three borders — Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI)