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Featured Image: The train blockade at Khardah station last week. File photo.

Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 24 August: TROUBLE returned to the suburban railway tracks in North 24-Parganas district in Bengal on Monday, this time male commuters blocking the tracks demanding that they be allowed to travel in ladies special trains.

A section of male commuters tried to board the ladies special Matribhoomi Local at Gobardanga station this morning but were stopped by Railway Protection Force personnel who had been deputed to guard the train during its journey.

Peeved at this, another group of male commuters blocked the train after it entered platform number-2 at Habra station. They demanded that in the absence of adequate number of local trains, they should be allowed to travel in Matribhoomi Local.

They pelted stones at the stranded train and wiped off the train’s name replacing it with Pitribhoomi, which stands for fatherland.

A team from Habra police station who rushed to the railway station to remove the blockade was attacked by the agitating male commuters. Nandam Mandal, a sub inspector and three photo journalists were injured by stone pelting.

The station soon turned into a battlefield of unruly mob and police, even as train services on the Sealdah –Bongaon route came to a grinding halt. Police had to resort to a lathi-charge to disperse the mob.

But the agitation soon spilled on to other stations, with male commuters blocking the tracks at Ashokagar, Bira, Duttapukur and Bongaon.  The trouble that had begun from Habra around 7.55 am is continuing for over four hours now.

Eastern Railyway (ER) had thrown open some compartments of the ladies special Matribhoomi Locals for male commuters beginning 17 August.  But the move resulted in vehement opposition from women commuters who clashed with their male counterparts over the issue at Khardah on the very first day.

Similar violent clashes took place on 19 August at several railway stations on the Sealdah-Bongaon and Sealdah-Hasnabad routes. This compelled ER authorities to recall their decision and restore the Matribhoomi Locals as women -only trains from today.

In another development, hundreds of villagers have blocked the railway track at Namkhana on Sealdah south section from 8 in the morning demanding installation of a rail gate at Ramzannagar.