Hundreds of angry passengers trash Indian train station as services for key pilgrimage cancelled

Millions of residents working across India return to their home state during Chhath festival

Namita Singh
Wednesday 15 November 2023 11:53 GMT
Related video: One person dead, 3 others injured in stampede at railway station in Surat amid festival rush

Angry passengers waiting to board a special train in India vandalised a railway station after railways cancelled the service.

Hundreds of people were waiting at a station in the northern state of Punjab to be able to board a special train launched for the Hindu festival of Chhath dedicated to the worship of the Sun god.

The festival is primarily celebrated in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh, with millions of residents zworking across the country returning to their home state during this season. Public transport sees a huge rush during this time, with back-to-back festivities including Diwali, prompting the Indian railways to launch special services.

Among these special trains was the one from Punjab’s Sirhind to Bihar’s Katihar, which was scheduled to leave on Tuesday, before it was cancelled.

The Northern Railways said that the “connecting rake got delayed and train was put back” at 3am, reported News18. “Regular announcements were made at the station,” it added.

The announcement sparked anger among those waiting at the station. Visuals show hundreds of people on the platform and the railway tracks, shouting slogans and pelting stones at police and parked passenger trains.

“Irate passengers reportedly pelted stones at Sirhind Railway Station after a special train from Punjab to Bihar’s Katihar was cancelled earlier today,” news agency PTI posted on X.

The incident came days after a 40-year-old man died and two others were hospitalised due to a stampede-like situation at a station in Gujarat as passengers attempted to board a Bihar-bound train to reach the state for Chhath, scheduled from 17 November to 20 November.

While the Indian railways announced that it was running 283 special trains which would make 4,480 trips this year during the Chhath festival, it has been regularly criticised for poor handling of the holiday rush, with videos circulating on social media showing packed trains, long queues outside coaches, and passengers travelling without reservation.

Earlier, a massive crowd gathered at a station in India’s financial capital Mumbai on Monday to board the train for Bihar ahead of the Chhath, with videos showing people thronging the station even before the train arrived.

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