In what is probably the first time in the history of the Indian Railways, a Rajdhani Express travelled 535 km for a single passenger. Yes, you read that right.
Ananya, who boarded the New Delhi-Ranchi Special Rajdhani Express from Mughalsarai, had been stuck at the Daltonganj station due to the rail blockade by some 200-odd Tana Bhagats at Tori junction in Latehar district, demanding changes to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and land rights. Ananya, a resident of HEC Colony in Ranchi, is pursuing her LL.B. from the Banaras Hindu University and was headed home.
Daltonganj Railway Station manager Anil Kumar Tiwari said Ananya was in the B-3 coach. At first, railway officials thought the train would be able to proceed to Ranchi once the blockade ended. But with the protest not showing any signs of ending soon, authorities readied buses to ferry passengers to Ranchi. While all other passengers took the buses, Ananya was adamant and even refused to travel by car which was offered by railway officials.
This is when the Railway Board chairman was informed of the unusual, persistent passenger. After discussions, he directed the Divisional Railway Manager to send Ananya to Ranchi by Rajdhani Express with women RPF security personnel. Though the distance from Daltonganj to Ranchi is 308 km, the train had to leave for Ranchi via Gomo and Bokaro from Gaya, a detour of 535 km to get Ananya home. The train finally reached Ranchi at 2 pm.
The railway authorities have written to the Jharkhand government to end the protest since almost 70 goods trains have been stranded for hours. The Tana Bhagats are a tribal community from the state’s Gumla district and are said to be followers of Gandhian principles, leading a simple life.