Kolkata, Feb 21 (IANS): The agitators in Haryana and West Bengal's Cooch Behar district should not block rail tracks and destroy railway property to highlight their grievances, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Sunday.
"I appeal to all my friends in West Bengal, in Haryana, in all the places, please do not block the traffic. Let the traffic flow. Your grievances can be dealt with separately," Prabhu said here while launching a number of rail projects in Bengal.
"Because of the grievances in Haryana, the railways have lost very precious property. We have to now find that money," he said.
Demonstrators in Haryana demanding reservations for the Jat community have reportedly set on fire the Budha Khera Railway Station in Jind district and the ticket counter of Basai Railway Station in Gurgaon.
The minister said the railways have been under stress arranging funds.
"If you burn it, forget providing additional facilities, the present infrastructure has to be re-strengthened by finding more money. Please do not block the roads and definitely not the railway tracks," he said.
The Jat has paralysed life in Haryana, cutting off the northern states from Delhi.
With trains to and from Delhi and other places being cancelled, buses not plying, all major highways passing through Haryana blocked by protestors at several places and railway tracks being blocked and uprooted, thousands of people suffered as they were stranded at different places.
Prabhu said he intended to launch a project which runs through Cooch Behar in Bengal but couldn't do so because of the indefinite 'rail roko' (blocking of railway) agitation launched on Saturday by the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples Association (GCPA).
"I appeal to all the demonstrators who have a genuine grievance: they should not block the railway tracks for doing that," Prabhu said.
"They have the right to demonstrate and that is a democratic right. We respect that right. We appeal to you because the common man is inconvenienced whenever there is a demonstration which results in stoppage of train services. The people who travel by train, most of them can't afford or don't have any other commuting options."
He unveiled the plaque for commencement of construction work of underground Metro between the NSC Bose International Airport and Jessore Road (Metro Rail), introduce 14 extra Metro services during peak hours from February 22, inaugurated the New Approach Road (by remote) from Belgachia road over bridge to Kolkata Terminal (Eastern Railway), commenced the work (by remote) for 14.50 km Sankrail-Santragachia New BG link line via Flyover from Down to UP side (S.E. Railway).