Cooch Behar, Kokrajhar blockades: Train services hit for third day

Kolkata/Guwahati, Feb 22 (IANS) For the third consecutive day, train services were disrupted as activists of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) squatted on railway tracks at the New Cooch Behar station on Monday demanding statehood for Cooch Behar region in northern West Bengal.

In Guwahati, an NFR official said at least 57 trains were cancelled and 16 diverted on Monday in view of the Jat agitation, and two rail blockades — one by Adivasis in Assam’s Kokrajhar district demanding ST status, and the second in Cooch Behar.

A number of long distance trains were cancelled, short terminated or stranded for hours due to the agitation, as GCPA activists lay siege to the tracks demanding C category state or union territory status for Cooch Behar and seeking dialogue with union home ministry officials to resolve the issue.

Movement of all up trains have been stalled in various stations of northern West Bengal, according to an official of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). Local passenger train services were suspended.

Meanwhile, GCPA chief Bangshi Badan Barman declared that the agitation would continue.

Benoy Thakur, a 29-year-old ailing passenger travelling to Kishanganj by the Kanchanjunga Express, died on Sunday due to lack of medical attention after his train was delayed by over 10 hours.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday had appealed to the squatters to let the trains move unhindered.

The Eastern Railway said it has cancelled four trains on Tuesday — 15959 Up Howrah-Dibrugarh Kamrup Express, 12345 Up Howrah-Guwahati Saraighat Express, 13141 Up Sealdah-New Alipurduar Teesta Torsa Express and 13147 Up Sealdah-New Cooch Behar Uttarbanga Express.

In Guwahati, NFR chief public relations officer (CPRO) Pranav Jyoti Sharma said long route trains were diverted through the Bongaigaon-Alipurduar-Siliguri-New Jalpaiguri route.

Hundreds of people under the banner of Adivasi National Convention Committee (ANCC) staged a rail blockade at the Kokrajhar railway station on Monday, leading to disruption of train movement in the region.

The blockade in Kokrajhar, however, ended in the afternoon.

“The blockade at Kokrajhar ended on Monday afternoon but the blockade at Cooch Behar is continuing. Train movement has been severely affected and we have been diverting long route trains through other routes without touching Cooch Behar,” said an NFR official.

“Security personnel have been deployed in and around the Kokrajhar station to prevent untoward incidents,” he said.

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