Telangana supporters paralyse rail traffic for separate state (Third Lead)By IANS
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
HYDERABAD - Intensifying the movement for separate statehood to Telangana, protesters in Andhra Pradesh Tuesday paralysed rail transport in Hyderabad and nine other districts of the region.
Massive protests on the tracks rocked most of the villages and gave train passengers a harrowing time.
Barring minor incidents, the day-long protest was by and large peaceful. The impact of the rail blockade is likely to be felt over Wednesday as South Central Railway Tuesday evening announced cancellation of Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Garib Rath and rescheduled some other trains.
The trains which were to leave Hyderabad and Secunderabad stations for Chennai, Howrah and Visakhapatnam between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. will be leaving four to five hours behind schedule.
Earlier, all express trains from Hyderabad to various cities in the state and other destinations in India, and all passenger trains in Telangana to other regions of the state were cancelled while several long-distance trains coming to Hyderabad were stopped.
The protests also badly hit the movement of trains between south and north India. Trains from Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore and other cities to Delhi and other destinations in the north were stopped by the protesters.
The protesters of various pro-Telangana groups stopped dozens of trains in and around Hyderabad, Nalgonda, Warangal, Nizamabad, Khammam and other districts even as railway authorities cancelled 25 express trains, causing severe inconvenience to passengers.
The 12-hour ‘rail blockade’ called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) began at 6 a.m. Tuesday to press the central government to introduce a bill in parliament for the formation of a separate Telangana state.
Raising slogans of ‘Jai Telangana’ and holding flags and banners, activists of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other constituents of the JAC, squatted on the tracks to stop the trains.
They were also cooking and eating food, singing songs, playing games and performing all their daily chores along the tracks.
At a few places, police arrested the protesters.
Telangana leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Telangana Praja Front of Maoist sympathiser Gaddar and Telangana lawyers’ forum are supporting the rail blockade.
TDP legislators from Telangana were arrested when they squatted on the tracks at Secunderabad railway station.
JAC chairman M. Kodandaram led the protest at Ghatkesar near Hyderabad, blocking movement of several trains.
He said the participation in the protest by parties which are not part of the JAC was a victory of people of the region. He claimed the programme was peaceful and successful.
The protesters led by TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s daughter Kavita blocked trains at Bibi Nagar near Hyderabad while his son and legislator K. Tarakarama Rao led the protest at Moulali.
“This should be an eye-opener to the central government. If it still fails to act to carve out a separate state, people will resort to indefinite rail blockade,” he told reporters.
South Central Railway (SCR) has cancelled as many as 25 express trains, including Hyderabad-Delhi AP Express, Hyderabad-Mumbai Hussain Sagar Express, Yeshwantpur-Secunderabad Garib Rath, Vijayawada-Secunderabad Satavahana Express, Guntur-Vikarabad Palnadu Express, Tirupati-Hyderabad Rayalaseema Express, Guntur-Secunderabad Golconda Express and Gudur-Secunderabad Simhapuri Express.
All passenger trains in Telangana region and all MMTS (local) trains in twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad have also been cancelled.
The Secunderabad railway station, one of the biggest stations in the country, wore a deserted look Tuesday as SCR cancelled most of the trains.
The movement of trains was badly hit at Kazipet in Warangal district, one of the busiest railway junctions.
Both police and railway authorities suspect sabotage by protesters. They have warned the protesters that strict action would be taken if they resort to attacks on passengers or railway property.
The police are patrolling important trunk routes and have beefed up security at railway stations to prevent any untoward incident.