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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

Kurmi protests lifted from two stations

Rail and road connectivity between Bengal and various states was disrupted as two Kurmi outfits blocked two railway stations

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 10.04.23, 05:03 AM
Kurmi members sit on tracks at Kustaur station in Purulia before the blockade was lifted from there on Sunday

Kurmi members sit on tracks at Kustaur station in Purulia before the blockade was lifted from there on Sunday Pictures by Purnabh Mahato

The movement by the Kurmi community, who have been putting up blockades on railway tracks and roads these past few days to press for the demand of Scheduled Tribe status, faced a setback on Sunday after its leaders called off the agitation at Purulia’s Kustaur station and West Midnapore’s Khemashuli station.

“Although we have been protesting here for the past five days under the scorching sun, the government did not turn up with a solution. We are vacating from Kustaur and Khemashuli railway stations. However, we would come up with a fresh movement very soon, after a meeting of our state committee members,” said Ajit Mahato, chief adviser to the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj, one of the outfits of the community that started the agitation.

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The rail and road connectivity between Bengal and various states was disrupted as two Kurmi outfits blocked two railway stations and a stretch of NH6.

While the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj blocked railway tracks at Khemashuli in West Midnapore and Kustaur in Purulia since April 5, another outfit with a nearly identical name — Adivasi Kurmi Samaj, West Bengal — laid siege to NH6, popularly known as the Calcutta-Mumbai highway, near Khemashuli from April 4.

Although protesters vacated Kustaur and Khemashuli stations on Sunday, many people of the community put up a fresh blockade at Purulia’s Kotshila railway station.

Mahato reached Kotshila station on Sunday evening, but some protesters did not agree to lift their movement from there, showing fissures in the leadership.

Agitating Kurmis at the Kustaur railway station

Agitating Kurmis at the Kustaur railway station

A senior state government official, however, said that although the blockade was on at Kotshila, it would not last for long because the protesters have been torn between two sides, one that wants to continue with the blockade and another that doesn’t.

“The movement has already faced a setback on Sunday and it would not take much time to clear the protesters (from Kotshila). Talks with the leaders of the Kurmi community are on,” said a senior state government official.

On Sunday, the state government asked the delegations of both the Kurmi outfits for a meeting at state secretariat Nabanna on Monday to discuss their demand of getting the ST status.

While Ajit Mahato, the chief adviser of one of the outfits, refused to attend, members of the other outfit said they were seriously thinking the proposal over.

“We have rejected the letter from the state government. We won’t take part in the meeting. Otherwise, we will just fall prey to politics,” Mahato said.

A functionary of the Adivasi Kurmi Samaj, West Bengal, however, said that they were likely to meet the state government officials on Monday. The NH6 blockade by this outfit continued on Sunday as well.

Since April 5, some 500 trains were cancelled amid the protests.

Railway officials said the plight of commuters did not end on Sunday because of the fresh blockadein Kotshila.

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