Jamshedpur/Kolkata: Protests by Kurmi community members in various districts of West Bengal were unabated on Saturday, the fifth consecutive day of their stir for ST status, as they blocked railway tracks and a stretch of National Highway-6, officials said. Train services in a few divisions of South Eastern Railway (SER) were affected as the agitators squatted on the tracks, leading to cancellation, short-termination and diversion of several trains, they said.
Around 250 mail/express and passenger trains have been cancelled since Tuesday, the officials said. The protesters also blocked a portion of NH-6 in Khemasuli in Paschim Medinipur district, leaving hundreds of goods carriers and buses stranded, and leading to long traffic snarls.
During the day, district administrations of Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram and Purulia held meetings with Kurmi community leaders to persuade them to withdraw the ongoing agitation, but the talks did not bear fruit, the officials said. Meanwhile, Purulia administration sources claimed that the protests were withdrawn in the district following the talks, but the Kurmis continued with their stir in Paschim Medinipur and Jhargram.
The rail blockade at Khemasuli station in Paschim Medinipur is still underway, and so is the agitation on National Highway-6, Kurmi Samaj state working committee member Tapas Mahto said. Hopefully, we will withdraw the ongoing protests. But, no final decision has been taken as of now, he said.
Mahto, however, said the road blockade on State Highway-5 in Jhargram’s Lodhasuli was lifted later in the day. The Kurmis, demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the community and inclusion of the Kurmali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, launched the agitation at various railway stations in West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand at 4 am on Tuesday.