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Sikhs demand arrest of Dera chief, paralyse rail service in Punjab
June 25, 2008 11:55 IST
Last Updated: June 25, 2008 12:37 IST
Train services in Punjab were suspended on Wednesday following blocking of tracks at several places by members of the Sikh community, who are demanding the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh in the wake of the Mumbai firing incident.
The Sikh protesters squatted on the track at several places, including Amritsar [Images], Sirhind, Malout, Abohar, Sangrur and Rajpura in Punjab to protest the killing of a community member, allegedly by the bodyguards of the Dera chief in Mumbai last week.
The 'rail roko' call given by Damdami Taksal, Shiromani Akali Dal and certain radical Sikh organisations asked the protesters to remain peaceful.
"At least eight super-fast and five passenger trains have been cancelled for the day. Several other trains were being terminated to ensure the safety of the passengers and rail property," said Divisional Railway Manager Ambala H K Jaggi.
Over 400 Sikhs, led by Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh, chief of SAD's Amritsar unit Daljit Singh Bittu and President of Sikh Students Federation (Mehta faction) Paramjit Singh Khalsa were staging a sit-in on the tracks at Madhopur village near Sirhind. The rail line connects Delhi with Amritsar and Jammu.
Punjab police sources said that though train services across the state had virtually come to a halt, the situation remained peaceful.
Protestors were squatting on the up and down tracks of the Ludhiana-New Delhi section, according to reports. Residents of nearby villages started a langar (community kitchen) for the protesters.
A goods train was stopped in the outer limits of Amritsar railway station, blocking the movement of incoming and outgoing trains, Northern Railway sources said.
Two trains -- Sri Ganganagar-New Delhi Express and Ganganagar-Haridwar Express -- were blocked at Malout, the sources said.
The Amritsar-bound Chhattisgarh Express was halted at the Hoshiarpur railway crossing in Jalandhar City and the Jammu Tawi Express was blocked at Chhehru railway station near Phagwara.
A large number of protesting Sikh youths of Damdami Taksal, brandishing swords and portraits of slain militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, blocked all rail tracks at different railway crossings in Amritsar, throwing rail traffic out of gear.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the district police all over the state in view of the protests. The railways have made arrangements for refund of fare to affected passengers.