| Policemen escort farmers after arresting them in Singur. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Dec. 2: Blockades put up at railway stations to protest the Singur lathicharge today had a fatal fallout.
Two persons died and three were seriously injured after they fell off an overcrowded suburban passenger train near Howrah station.
When the blockades were lifted, stranded passengers scrambled to get into trains.
Train services in the Howrah division had been stalled from 4.30 pm to 7.20 pm.
When the Howrah-Burdwan local reached the Tikiapara car shed, 2.5 km from Howrah, the five fell off. According to witnesses, they fell from different compartments, but officials said it was difficult to confirm this.
A Sheoraphuli local coming from the opposite end was stopped and the injured were put on it, the officials added.
None of the five was identified till late at night.
Two of them were taken to the Howrah Railway Orthopaedic Hospital, where one was declared dead on arrival while the other succumbed to his injuries.
The rest are in Howrah State General Hospital and their condition is said to be critical. “There are multiple fractures and serious injuries all over their bodies,” said hospital superintendent S. Chakraborty. “It seems they were hit by electric posts and consequently were thrown off the train. There is cerebral haemorrhage and other complications, too.”
Railway traffic was brought to a halt by Trinamul Congress protesters in both the Howrah and Sealdah divisions.
“Train schedules went haywire due to the blockades,” an Eastern Railway official said.
Both local and long-distance trains bore the brunt. The Rajdhani Express from Howrah was held up at Belur.
At the Hind Motor station, a mob dragged the guard of a Howrah-Bandel local out of his van and set the train on fire. Railway officials rushed to the spot with fire tenders.
R.P. Agarwal, the commissioner of railway safety, eastern division, on his way to Kiul to conduct an inquiry into today’s Bhagalpur train accident, was also stuck. Agarwal, who flew in from Hyderabad today, had to wait for hours at Sheoraphuli.
The Trinamul protests also took their toll on the road traffic across Calcutta.
Since late in the afternoon, when the news of the alleged police atrocities on farmers in Singur spread, Trinamul activists took to the streets, setting up blockades and taking out processions around some of the busiest thoroughfares.
Over 60 people were rounded up from different parts of the city. A few students of Presidency College were also arrested when they tried to set up a roadblock. Outside Jadavpur University, engineering students disrupted traffic for over an hour.
“The traffic disruptions happened at different places across the city. Our officers tackled the situation very promptly. Thankfully, there was no violence,” said Jawed Shamim, the deputy commissioner of police (traffic).
The Park Circus connector in south Calcutta was the worst-hit. Around 4.30 pm, more than 250 Trinamul activists took out a procession from Topsia.