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Rourkela cut off for a second day

January 11, 2006 16:46 IST
The steel city Rourkela remained cut off for the second day on Wednesday as the blockade at its entry points launched by tribal agitators continued overnight paralysing train services for over 24 hours on the Howrah-Mumbai main line.

The agitators launched the economic blockade since the wee hours on Tuesday demanding among other things the return of surplus land by Rourkela Steel Plant, taken 50 years ago, to the original owners.

No train plied between Rourkela and Chakradharpur since 9:00 am Tuesday as the agitators armed with bows, arrows and axes commenced the economic blockade.

Railway sources said that two long distance trains - Mumbai-Howrah Gyaneswari Express and Ahmedabad-Howrah Express stranded at Rourkela were being diverted to Howrah via Sambalpur, Talcher and Cuttack.

A large number of passengers stranded at Rourkela railway station created a commotion on Wednesday morning.

The number of agitators obstructing the track at the Kukudagate level crossing in the suburbs of the steel city had gone down last night because of the of the cold, their numbers swelled this morning with more number of people joining the stir.

Food was being cooked on the side of the railway track for the agitators as the stalemate continued, hitting the movement of trains on the Chakradharpur-Jharsuguda section.

The Revenue Divisional Commissioner (northern division) Ashok Dalvai arrived in Rourkela to take stock of the situation and held a meeting with the district officials.

He is likely to meet the agitators, official sources said.

The Additional District Magistrate Shalini Pandit and Superintendent of Police D S Kutte had met the agitators at Kukudagate and urged them to call off the stir since a ministerial committee, already set up to go into tribal land issues in the wake of the Kalinga Nagar incident, would look into their demand as well.

But the leaders of the two organisations - Rourkela Local Displaced Association and Anchalik Surakhya Committee spearheading the agitation, turned down the request

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