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1,680 pilgrims stranded in Jammu to reach Surat today

The pilgrims, who had gone to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, reach Surat in a special train from Chandigarh Saturday afternoon.

By: Express News Service | Surat |
December 25, 2021 3:23:13 am
Pilgrims who had gone to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple at Katra railway station in Jammu. Express

As many as 1,680 pilgrims from Gujarat, who were stranded at Katra in Jammu after their return train was cancelled due to the farmers’ agitation in Punjab, reached Amritsar Friday in a special train after the intervention of Union Railway Ministry. The pilgrims, who had gone to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, reach Surat in a special train from Chandigarh Saturday afternoon.

Union Minister of State for Railways Darshana Jardosh said, “We have made special arrangements to bring the stranded pilgrims safely to Surat. Those pilgrims of other states will also be brought back to their home states by alternate arrangements and we have intimated the railway authorities regarding this.”

The pilgrims, most of whom were from Surat, had gone to the Vaishno Devi temple in a special train on December 17 as part of a tour package arranged by the Mata Vaishno Yatra Sewa trust of Surat. They reached the destination on December 19 and their return train was scheduled from Katra Railway station December 21. However the train service was cancelled due to the farmers’ agitation in Punjab and the railway authorities told them to wait for two days to arrange another train.

The tour operator president of Maa Vaishno Yatra Sewa trust Rajkumar Mundra said that they stayed in their hotel rooms in Katra for two days and and contacted the Railway authorities at Katra Railway station to arrange another train to Surat.

Finally, when the pilgrims sought help from Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishaw and Darshana Jardosh, a special train was arranged Thursday for their return journey. “We were stranded for three days at Katra… We did not get a positive response from the Katra Railway officials. After many failed attempts to get help from various corners, we contacted Udhna MLA Vivek Patel, who shared the number of the Union Ministers Vaishnaw and Jardosh…,” Mundra said.

He added, “On Wednesday night, we sent a text message to the Union Ministers informing them about our plight and that there are many elderly people whose health conditions are bad due to cold weather. Both the ministers replied assuring all possible help. On Thursday morning, we started receiving calls from the Katra Railway officials and officials of Western Railway who told us that special arrangements have been made for our return journey. We received calls from the Gujarat CM’s office and Surat city Mayor’s office. Finally a special train was arranged from Katra Railway station Thursday for our return.”

A special train left from Katra Railway station with all the 1680 pilgrims reached Amritsar Friday at 4.30 am. From Amritsar, they were taken to Chandigarh Railway station and in the afternoon they boarded a special train which will reach Surat on Saturday.

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