Hyderabad : Rail movement in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh came to a standstill Thursday as agitators demanding a separate state stopped several trains as part of a 12-hour rail blockade that has virtually snapped rail links of south India with other parts of the country.
Leaders and activists of the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC), which called the blockade, squatted on the tracks at various places to stop the trains, officials said.
The railways have already cancelled 31 express and 116 passenger trains, partially cancelled 20 express and 14 passenger trains, rescheduled 23 and diverted 23 express trains as a precautionary measure.
The South Central Railway (SCR) has also cancelled all 51 DHMU (Diesel Hydraulic Multiple Unit) services in Telangana and MMTS (Multi-Modal Transport System) trains in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Passengers had a tough time as protesters belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other constituents of JAC blocked the movement of trains at several places in Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda districts.
According to police, protesters stopped 14 passenger and 11 goods trains. Police arrested 149 protesters for disrupting rail traffic.
Activists stopped several trains at Kazipet junction in Warangal district, which connects the railway lines in the south to the north.
Tension prevailed near Nekonda in Warangal district when pro-Telangana activists attacked the car of state minister Thota Narasimham, who was travelling to Hyderabad by road after protesters stopped Gautami Express.
The minister, hailing from Andhra region, was coming to the state capital by the train when it was stopped near Nekonda. As the minister boarded a private four-wheeler and was heading to Hyderabad, it was stopped by the activists. They pelted stones damaging the windowpanes. The police rushed to the minister’s rescue.
The Delhi-Hyderabad Dakshin Express was forcibly stopped at Ghatkesar near Hyderabad early Thursday. JAC convenor M. Kodandaram and BJP leader Indrasena Reddy were among the leaders who participated in the rail blockade at Ghatkesar.
The Tirupati-Secunderabad Narayanadri Express was forced to stop at Chityala in Nalgonda district.
The Tirupati-Secunderabad Padmavati Express and the Vizag-Hyderabad Padmavathi Express trains were stopped by protesters at Bibini Nagar.
Secunderabad-Rajkot, Bangalore-Ernakulam, Hyderabad-Narsapur, Secunderabad-Machilipatnam, Chennai-Egmore and Hyderabad-Mumbai Hussain Sagar express trains were among the key trains stopped by the protesters.
The movement of goods trains has also been hit in Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts, affecting the transport of coal produced by the state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited.
The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is operating special buses for the stranded railway passengers.
The train services are likely to return to normal after 6 p.m.