Court asks Govt to clear rail blockade by Jats

Allahabad High Court Friday issued stern directives to the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure the restoration of rail services disrupted in the ten-day old agitation by the Jat community for job quota. Demanding their inclusion in the list of Other Backward Castes (OBC) in government job quota, the Jat protesters have been blockading key rail routes in western Uttar Pradesh. The court issued its directives to the Uttar Pradesh government on a public interest litigation (PIL). Chief Justice F.I. Rebello took suo motto cognizance of the issue and constituted a two-judge bench in Lucknow to initiate suitable action on the matter. Within the next hour, the special bench comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice V.K. Dixit summoned top government officials, directing them to take prompt action to clear the rail tracks and ensure restoration of the rail traffic.
The judges rapped the state government for its indifference and apathy towards the inconvenience being caused to thousands of rail passengers on account of the cancellation and diversion of several important trains. The agitation by Jat community has severely affected train traffic on the Delhi-Lucknow route, where most trains were forced to take long detours, leading to hours-long delays. Within 30 minutes of the court's intervention, the state government swung into action. 'We have been worried about the whole issue and the chief minister too has been busy holding a series of meetings on the issue', claimed state Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh at a hurriedly convened press conference. 'However, there was little that we could do to resolve the crisis as the agitators' demand was not within the authority of the state government,' he said. 'Yet, we will surely abide by the order of the high court and do whatever is within our means to carry it out,' Singh added. Chief Minister Mayawati at a press conference here last week announced that the government was 'in support of the demand raised by the Jat community, but we do not have the authority to do anything about it. Therefore I would advise them to raise the issue before the union government.'

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