Ranchi, February 11: Around a dozen trains were cancelled and several short-terminated due to the agitation of Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA) which had given a rail-roko agitation in five eastern states of the country over a host of issues, including asserting its rights over ‘Marang Buru’ or Parsnath Hills in Jharkhand’s Giridih and recognition of Sarna as a religion in the next census.
Train services in parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal were affected on Saturday due to blockades by a tribal organisation over the Parasnath Hills fiasco, the South Eastern Railway (SER) said.
The Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan (ASA) called for a dawn-to-dusk blockade of railway tracks and ‘chakka jam’ on roads in Assam, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, also seeking the inclusion of Sarna religious code in the Census. They threatened to launch an indefinite agitation if their demands were not addressed by Central government and Jharkhand government.
ASA activists blocked railway tracks in Kantadih station in Adra division, Khemasuli station in Kharagpur division and Mahadevsal and Posoita stations in Chakradharpur division.
As a result of the stir, several trains, including Howrah-Barbil Jan Shatabdi Express, Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express, Kharagpur-Tatanagar passenger, Tatanagar-Howrah Steel Express, Chakradharpur-Gomoh MEMU, Tatanagar-Danapur Express and Tatanagar-Asansol passenger, were cancelled, an SER statement said.
Several other trains, including Hatia-Tatanagar Express, Dhanbad-Tatanagar Express, Jhargram-Purulia MEMU, Adra-Barabhum MEMU, Asansol-Barabhum MEMU and Asansol-Tatanagar passenger, were either short-terminated or short-originated, it said, adding some other trains were also diverted.
“The agitation was withdrawn from Khemasuli at noon, from Mahadevsal at 1 pm and from Kantadih at 3.55 pm. Normal train services were gradually restored,” the statement said.
Some activists also blocked National Highway 6 near Khemasuli for some time.
ASA president Salkhan Murmu said February 11 is the birth anniversary of Tilka Murmu who is first freedom fighter from the Santal community to take up arms against the British.
The outfit launched ‘Marang Buru Bachao Yatra’ on January 17 in Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and West Bengal to assert its rights over Parasnath Hills, which is also one of the holiest sites of the Jain community. The tribals also consider Parasnath Hills as the holiest ‘jeherthan’ (place of worship).
The ASA is also demanding enlisting of Jharkhandi adivasis living in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Assam for decades in the Schedule Tribe category, and opposing inclusion of the Kurmi community in the ST category, Murmu, a former MP, said.
The ‘Marang Buru Bachao Yatra’ will end on February 28, he said.