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Leaders on track, travellers stranded
People bear brunt of agitation

Nalin Kumar and Soni Singh, along with their three-year-old son, were caught unawares on Friday. The family had planned to visit Mumbai but instead found themselves running from one platform to another owing to the BJP’s “Rail Roko” agitation.

They were scheduled to board the Patna-Mumbai CST Superfast Express (12142) from Patna Junction at 10.45am. They reached 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time and were waiting at platform three, when it was announced the train would arrive at platform five. They started hurrying towards the overbridge carrying luggage but when they reached the platform, it was again announced that the train was running around four-and-a-half hours behind schedule.

“Before leaving the house, I called 139 to enquire about the status of the train. I was told that it was on time, so I did not take a chance and reached the station before time. However, I was a bit apprehensive owing to the BJP’s rail blockade but I had full faith on the railways. It is quite painful. I have been forced to wait for more than four hours with my wife and kid,” said Nalin, a businessman.

His wife, Soni, said: “It is very tough to spend time on a railway station when you have a kid. I do not think it was the right way for the BJP workers to protest. Lakhs of people travel by trains and it affects people at large. It is not about me only, there may be thousands of people like me facing similar problems.”

The BJP-sponsored rail roko stir also inconvenienced others.

Mayank Kumar, a student preparing for bank examinations, was stranded at Sachivalaya Halt while travelling on the Patna-Bhabua Intercity Express (13249) since 5am. “It’s been four hours at this particular halt since 5 in the morning and the BJP workers are not ready to listen. If they wanted to protest, they should have gone to Gandhi Maidan and organised a rally in support of their demands. If they think the Centre has neglected Bihar, they should go to Delhi and block trains over there,” said Mayank. As soon as the train departed from Patna Junction travelling 500m, party workers led by Bankipore MLA Nitin Navin blocked the train and sat on the railway tracks.

The BJP state unit had called for a rail chakka jam across the state demanding a special financial package and special category status for the state. The workers had started their agitation since 5am, leading to disruption of 75 trains at Patna Junction of which 30 were express.

Most of the trains departing from all three major stations, including Patna Junction, Rajendra Nagar Terminus and Danapur railway station were delayed by four to five hours.

Sumit Kumar, who was supposed to catch the Rajya Rani Express (12568) from Patna Junction, said: “There has been a death in my family. I am supposed to attend the last rites of my uncle in Saharsa. However, my train is already delayed by three hours.”