Today's Paper

Madurai still remains without rail link

Youngsters staging a rail roko for the third day in Madurai on Saturday. (Right) Madhya Pradesh pilgrims who were stranded at the railway junction in the city.— Photos: R. Ashok and S. Sundar  

Madurai remained an island, disconnected from the rail map of the country, for the third consecutive day on Saturday as there was no let up in rail roko by students on both sides of the railway junction.

The protesters were hitherto seeking conduct of jallikattu. “Vaadivasal kaanamal, veedu vaasal mithikka maattom,” they shouted to drive home the point that they would not return home without the bulls getting released through the traditional gate of jallikattu arena.

However, from Friday evening, their stance changed to a permanent solution to jallikattu that would ensure conduct of the bull sport without any legal hindrance.

Southern Railway has been cancelling at least 20 trains every day due the rail roko at various places.

Efforts of police officials to pacify the crowd sitting in front of the Coimbatore-Nagercoil passenger train over Vaigai river bridge at Sellur and at the southern entrance of Madurai railway junction proved futile.

“Please do not come back again to hold peace talks with us. When demands are fulfilled we will silently disperse,” a youth told the police team. A police officer told the students that they were being misguided by anti-social elements in blocking the train, which is a serious offence.

Meanwhile, a group of over 70 pilgrims from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh got stranded in Madurai as no train was being operated from here.

After having caught up in Rameswaram, the pilgrims, including women and children, boarded a bus to reach Madurai railway junction with the hope of continuing with their plan of going to Kanniyakumari, said Radhesh Shyam Jaiswal (50).

“Our problem has doubled as no one here knows Hindi. We have been interacting with people in sign language,” he said.

“Now that we do not have enough money, we cannot afford a bus journey,” said Kala, a woman passenger.

The group has been on an all-India pilgrimage and now wanted to return home cutting short the trip. They were weighing their options of either going to Virudhunagar or Tiruchi en route to Ujjain.

Meanwhile, Southern Railway has announced a special train, .06017 from Chennai Egmore to Madurai that would leave Chennai Egmore at 11.45 p.m. on Saturday

This train, with a composition of 12 sleeper class coaches, four general second class coaches and two luggage-cum-rake vans, will run to open timings and will stop at Tambaram, Chengalpattu, Melmaruvathur, Tindivanam, Villupuram, Vridhachalam, Ariyalur, Tiruchi, Manaparai, Dindigul and Kodai Road.

A railway official said that the railway administration was making an attempt to run the train up to Madurai, expecting the protesters to give up their agitation by morning.

“Or else, it will be terminated at the nearest possible railway station to Madurai," the official said.