Mangalore: The Mangalore-Bangalore night train, which the people of the region had secured after over a decade long battle, has been virtually snatched away from the district.What the people here feared has happened-the night train has been extended upto Kannur with Union Minister of State for Railways E Ahmed flagging off the train recently.May be it is a day of rejoice for people of Kerala, particularly Kannur and Kasargod, but not for us Dakshina Kannadigas.A train which was sanctioned after much protests, representations and memorandums is today not our privilege but the privilege of the people of Kannur. With the starting point being Kannur, the number of seats reserved for Mangalore has reduced drastically much to the disappointment of the people of the region, more so because it was a train which they had secured after a long battle.
When the railway budget earlier this year proposed the extension of the Mangalore-Bangalore night train upto Kannur, naturally there were protests and opposition galore in the district The Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel had then even warned that he would launch an agitation if the train was extended towards Kannur. Meanwhile, there was also a demand to extend the train upto Karwar in Karnataka instead of Kannur. Meanwhile when there were reports that the train would not be extended towards Kannur, but would be diverted towards Karwar, there was some satisfaction. But everything turned topsy turvy when the train actually started from Kannur recently.
What has been gathered as of now is that it was the interest evinced by the Union Minister of State for Railways E Ahmed that actually forced the railways to extend the train to Kannur. Some time back when a delegation from the district had met the minister in Mangalore requesting him against diverting the train towards Kannur, the Minister had actually defended the extension of the train. The Minister had then justified the extension saying people in Kannur region had been demanding closer links to Mangalore and that the train would also boost the socio-economic and educational ties. The Minister also strongly felt that Mangaloreans will not be inconvenienced by the extension of the train.One really does not understand how the minister could then say that Mangalore would not be inconvenienced.
The very same minister after flagging off the extended service of the Yeshwanthpur-Mangalore Express from Mangalore to Kannur, while stating that the extension of the train to this station would be an additional link to Bangalore via Mangalore and Mysore,emphasised the need for more trains to link Kerala and Karnataka.
Now that the train has already been extended much against the wishes of the people of the region, the question is what should be the next step to be taken by Dakshina Kannadigas. People are also sore over the Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel who has maintained total silence. Already, several organisations have made an appeal to the railway authorities to cancel the extension to Kannur and run the train upto Karwar. A demand was also placed that if at all the train had to run upto Kannur, then it has to be extended upto Karwar at least for four days a week.
But, will the demand be conceded ? The people of the region may have to fight another long drawn battle against the injustice done to them. But solitary voices are not enough. The district should rise in unison against this injustice to the region. All organisations should join hands, and under a single umbrella launch an indefinite stir until the extension towards Kannur is cancelled. Here it is worth mentioning that a huge protest planned in Mangalore under the aegis of various organisations soon after the railway budget proposal to extend the train upto Kannur, was eventually turned into a mere protest march, reportedly at the behest of the local MP who assured to discuss the issue with the Railway Minister.
This time however, the organisations should not succumb to pressure from any corner and launch a united fight which would surely secure justice to the district. Even the elected representatives should sink all differences and join this stir.Here one cannot forget that the powerful private bus lobby in the district is backed by the several politicians in the district who are owners of many buses. This lobby has to be suppressed if justice has to be delivered to the people of the district.