Indian Railways has said that it has lost property worth Rs 84 crore in the rioting in the name of protests against the amended Citizenship Act (CAA) and the idea of implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country between 13 and 15 December in West Bengal. The Railways said this in a report filed in the Kolkata High Court. And this cost on the exchequer does not include the value in services lost due to the lumpen elements.
In an affidavit on Friday before a division bench of Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice A Banerjee, the ex-railway said it suffered a loss of Rs 72.2 crore due to the protests in West Bengal. The affidavit stated that the maximum loss of Rs 46 crore was done in Sealdah division.
In addition, the Malda division has incurred a loss of Rs 24.5 crore. The Howrah division also suffered a loss of over one crore.
The court was hearing a PIL which said that those who have suffered a loss in performance, including the railways, should be compensated. Similarly, Southern Railway has given a separate affidavit. South Eastern Railway said in a separate affidavit that it had incurred a loss of Rs 12.75 crore. The next hearing of the case will take place after four weeks.
Three divisions of the Eastern Railways (ER) — Howrah, Sealdah and Malda — were impacted badly over 13, 14 and 15 December. ER cancelled 127 mail or express trains, 190 passenger trains and 290 suburban trains.
South-Eastern Railways’ Kharagpur division alone suffered a lot of damage — worth at least Rs 16 crore. Over the days of riots, 48 trains were cancelled, six stations were ransacked and five trains were torched.
Bengal on 13-15 December 2019
Since 13 December in West Bengal, protesters vandalised or set on fire 19 stations and 20 trains, pelted stones at passing trains, ransacked ticket booking counters and laid siege to tracks. Some 655 trains have been cancelled in the state, reported The Print. It added, however, that only 17 FIRs were lodged in connection with the incidents of arson and rioting at railway premises.
Train services were affected in Sealdah division of the Eastern Railway on 13 December last year, as people protesting against the amended Citizenship Act blocked tracks at several places, leaving thousands stranded.
In the Krishnanagar-Lalgola section, tracks were blocked at Beldanga and Rejinagar stations around 3:20 PM and also near Murshidabad station at 4:30 PM.
The Beldanga railway station complex in Murshidabad district was set on fire and RPF personnel deputed there were thrashed.
Train services were on only between Sealdah and Krishnanagar.
In the Baruipur-Diamond Harbour section, railway tracks were obstructed at Basuldanga around 2.55 pm, affecting train movement in the stretch.
The next day, rioters blocked motorways and attacked trains and stations in Kolkata. The UK, US and Canada issued travel warnings to their citizens visiting India’s north-east, telling them to “exercise caution” if travelling to the region. That, in turn, affected the revenue that could have been earned from Indian Railways (and air services) in the region.
On 15 December 2019, protesters laid siege of the highway connecting Mathabhanga to Coochbehar. Police from the local Kotowali station dispersed the crowd.
Bengal Congress workers took to the streets protesting against CAA. They blocked the Bhyabla railway station at Basirhat subdivision on Sunday resulting in disruption of services for some time.