KARNATAKA

Month-long stir planned against Railways

Sudipto Mondal

KCCI leads meeting to decide plan of action



Five demands to be put forth for fulfilment

Inspection team to be welcomed by demonstrators



MANGALORE: The demand for better railway connectivity to Dakshina Kannada got a shot in the arm on Saturday with the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) leading a meeting that was attended by Puttur and Udupi chambers of Commerce and Industry, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the general public.

A three-pronged strategy was adopted at the meeting: hunger strike in Mangalore on October 24, Mulki November 1, and Udupi November 22); judicial activism through Public Interest Litigation; and representations and letter campaign to ministers and administrators.

Future course

Although more radical methods including “rail roko” and “jail bharo” (courting arrest) were suggested at the meeting, Kumble Narasimha Prabhu, president of KCCI, said: “That will be our last resort. If nothing happens by November 22, we will try even that.” Justifying the involvement of the KCCI, Mr. Prabhu said that connectivity by road and rail directly affected trade and commerce.

Demands

Five major demands were agreed upon at the meeting: to start the Mangalore-Bangalore passenger train service; extension of Janashatabdi train to Mangalore as originally planned; bringing Mangalore under the Mysore division of the South Western Railway instead of being under the Palghat division of Southern Railway; dedicating the Matsyagandha Express exclusively between Mangalore and Mumbai; Building railway over-bridge at Bajal level-crossing; and changing the name of Mangalore Main Railway Station to Mangalore Central and Kankanady Railway Station to Mangalore Junction.

Halfway through the meeting, a sudden announcement that a senior-level Railway inspection team would arrive in the city on Sunday, aboard a trial passenger train from Bangalore, aroused interest among those attending the meeting.

Demonstration

It was decided that a demonstration would be arranged to welcome the inspection team.

Passion overrides

The meeting was replete with passionate speeches from various heads of industry and NGOs such as Railway Yatri Sangha, Small Scale Industries Associations of Bykampady and Yeyyadi. “We must boycott all elections until our demands are met,” “We will scale our agitations to such a crescendo that people all over the country will recognise the revolutionary spirit of the people of Dakshina Kannada,” they said. The meeting comes close on the heels of the ‘rail roko’ agitation in Udupi on Saturday where the Matsyagandha Express was blocked by the Bharatiya Janatha Party workers.

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