Ayyappa devouts face stone pelting
GUNTUR: Ayyappa devotees from Andhra Pradesh travelling in Sabari Express (No. 17229 Trivandrum-Nampally) were allegedly attacked in Kerala on Friday. This is the second such incident in the last two days.
Around a dozen devotees were injured when students and local youths hurled stones at the train near Shoranur station around 1 pm. Enraged over the attack, about 600 pilgrims from Andhra staged a rail roko protest. They ended the flash protest only after the intervention of senior police officials and the train resumed its journey at 5.30 pm.
According to information provided by devotees, trouble began soon after the train left Trivandrum at 7.30 am. A pilgrim, Lingareddy of Guntur, who was travelling in the S-10 coach objected to a couple occupying his reserved berth. When asked to move, the couple reportedly insisted that they be allowed to remain in the coach as they would disembark within an hour.
Even as heated arguments were going on, the couple got down at Thrissur and lodged a complaint with the police. The cops then asked Lingareddy and his associates to come to the police station. But with around 30 passengers in the S-10 coach objecting, the police finally allowed them to go ahead and the train left the station after a halt of 30 minutes.
However, some locals and students reached the next station, Shoranur Junction, and allegedly rained stones on the train. "It was a horrifying experience as they ruthlessly attacked us," K Venkateswarlu of Vinukonda told TOI over phone. Pilgrims suspect that the attack was in view of a similar incident involving Bokaro Express on Thursday. Devotees from Prakasam district travelling by Bokaro Express had faced trouble and a railway police constable from Ongole town, Rambabu, was injured.
But on Friday, the angry pilgrims from all the coaches got down and staged a protest at the station. There were around 600 pilgrims from Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam travelling on the train. A devotee, Anna Mallikharjuna Rao, said none of the public representatives from AP intervened despite their frantic calls to various ministers. Some devotees were also allegedly detained by the Kerala police.