Kurmi community's drive for ST status hits rail services
Over 30 trains plying through Jharkhand had to be cancelled on Tuesday because of the agitation by the Kurmi community demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status and inclusion of the Kurmali language in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
The agitation which affected train services mostly in Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha had the worst effect in the Chandil section with agitators squatting on tracks near Chandil station and Nimdih station in the Seraikela-Kharsawan district till the evening.
Chief public relation officer of South Eastern Railway, Aditya Choudhary, said that over 30 trains had to be cancelled while several trains had to be short terminated and diverted because of the agitation.
“Till information available with us at 6pm, the agitation was still continuing in Khemasouli in Kharagpur division which affected traffic on the Howrah-Mumbai route,” said Choudhary, who joined on Monday.
Some of the trains that were cancelled are Tatanagar-Howrah-Tatanagar Steel Express, Howrah-Barbil-Howrah Janshatabdi Express, Howrah-Titlagarh-Kantabhanji Ispat Express, Asansol-Tatanagar-Asansol Express, Tatanagar-Danapur Express and Howrah-Ghatsila-Howrah Express, he said.
Passengers were the worst sufferers. “I was scheduled to board a flight to Delhi from Calcutta in the afternoon for an assignment. I have to reschedule everything now and try for a flight from Ranchi. I am trying to get a refund of my tickets from Tatanagar,” said Prakash Karmakar, a software professional who had come to visit his ailing parents in Jamshedpur and was returning back on Tuesday morning through Tatanagar-Howrah Steel Express.
Railway traffic in the Chakradharpur division was worst affected due to the massive agitation near Jhargram and Khemasoli under the Kharagpur division.
Jharkhand Kurmi Vikas Morcha central president Sheetal Ohdar and spokesperson Om Prakash Mahto in a joint statement said that their agitation would continue till their demands are met.
“Unless the central government announces to include Kurmi in the ST list, we will continue our agitation. If the government does not take a decision on this soon, the political parties may have to bear the brunt of it in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” said Ohdar.
He alleged that after Independence, Kurmi society was there in the ST list till 1955, but under a conspiracy, Kurmi was excluded from this list.