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DMK stir hits train services

Staff Reporter

Agitation called off after Prime Minister’s intervention

Thiruvananthapuram: A rail roko by the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu against Kerala’s stand on the proposed Salem division threw the services of long-haul mail and express trains coming to the State on Saturday out of gear.

Hundreds of passengers proceeding to their homes for Onam holidays got stranded as the trains from New Delhi, Gorakhpur, Patna, Dhanbad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad were held up by DMK activists in Tirupur, Salem and Coimbatore, which have been identified for inclusion in the new division.

Many passengers were taken by surprise by the stir. Train no. 2511 Gorakhpur-Thiruvanthapuram Express was the first to be blocked by 3,000-odd DMK activists near Salem around 6.15 a.m. Later, the train was held up at Coimbatore.

Services delayed

The train services were delayed by four to eight hours, Railway sources said. The trains that were affected included the 2626 Kerala Express, 6041 Chennai-Alappuzha Express and 3351 Dhanbad-Alappuzha Express (four hours each), 6310 Patna-Kochi Express, 6526 Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express (five hours each) and 7230 Hyderabad-Thiruvananthapuram Sabari Express (eight hours).

Normality was restored by around 12.30 p.m., railway sources said. The DMK has since called off the rail roko following the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has urged the people in Tamil Nadu to desist from provocative agitations over the controversy over the Salem Railway Division. In a statement here on Saturday, Mr. Vijayan welcomed the withdrawal of the stir following an appeal by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

He, however, regretted participation of workers, of even national parties such as the Congress, in the agitation carrying their party flags.

Our Special Correspondent writes from New Delhi: Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi welcomed the initiative taken by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in getting political parties of the State to give up their call to blockade trains.

In a related statement, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala said the very fact that political parties in Tamil Nadu had planned a blockade was a matter of concern. “Instead of dialogue, they have resorted to playing on the emotions of the people.” Of the view that Kerala should be given a zonal headquarters, he sought the Prime Minister’s intervention in getting the stalemate over the creation of Salem division resolved.

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