Train services in different parts of north Bengal were disrupted on Tuesday due to rail blockades staged by the Kamtapur State Demand Forum (KSDF) asking for a separate Kamtapur state.
KSDF is the joint forum of Kamtapur People’s Party (KPP) and Kamtapur Progressive Party. (KPP).
Following the ongoing blockades that started early Tuesday morning, different mail, express and goods trains got stranded at different stations.
Kanchanjunga Express, one of the most important trains moving from South Bengal to North Bengal and vice versa, was stranded at the Maynaguri railway station in Jalpaiguri district.
Huge police contingents, including personnel from state police force, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP), were deployed at the stations where the KSDF activists staged their blockades.
The 12-hour blockade was announced by the KSDF in advance, claimed the forum’s president, Nikhil Ray.
“This programme was announced and our only demand is the separate Kamtapur state,” he said.
The vice-chairman of the forum, Amit Ray said that despite residences from the joint police forces the programme had been quite successful.
“The police have already arrested a number of our supporters,” he added.
He also claimed that initially they raised their demands peacefully by interacting with the state and the Central governments.
However, he added, that since neither the state government nor the Centre government gave any positive response on this count they were forced to resort to the rail- blockade agitation.
“In the coming days we will resort to bigger movements on this count.”
The movement gained significance in the backdrop of the elections for the three-tier panchayat system in the state scheduled next year.
The Kamtapur state is proposed to be forked out of Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts in West Bengal; and Goalpara, Dhubri, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar districts in Assam; Kishanganj district in Bihar; and Jhapa district in Nepal.
In the past, there had been instances of armed movement over this demand by Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which came into existence in December 1985.