Over 40,000 stranded, train traffic hit Tuesday, May 26 2009 

The situation in trouble-torn Punjab was on Tuesday (May 26) tense but under control after violence swept the state in the wake of the killing of a sect head in Vienna. Buses were not plying in the state and most of the train services remained curtailed. The first train that passed through Ludhiana on Tuesday morning was Guwahati-Jammu Himgiri express, officials said. However, roads, which had been blocked by protestors who had set up barricades, have been cleared for traffic, officials said.

Meanwhile, three trains bound for Punjab and Jammu have been terminated at Ambala junction, officials said, adding these included Dadar-Amritsar express, Mumbai-Amritsar deluxe and Shaheed express. Three trains have been cancelled including Amritsar-Nanded Sachkhand express, Amritsar-Jansewa express and Meerut-Ludhiana superfast.

The widespread violence and arson took place in the state after head of Jalandhar-based Dera Sachkhand Ballan and his associate were attacked by some Sikhs in a shrine at Vienna at Austria on Sunday. While Dera Sachkhand head Sant Nairanjan Dass was injured his associate Sant Ramanand succumbed to bullet injuries in a hospital triggering widespread arson and violence by their followers mostly Dalits in many parts of Punjab.

About 15,000 passengers, mostly Vaishnodevi pilgrims, are stranded at Jammu railway station due to disruption in rail services in the wake of violent protests in some parts of Punjab over the attack on a sect leader in Vienna. Railways cancelled 19 trains passing through Jammu after violence broke out in Jalandhar and other neighbouring districts of Punjab yesterday, official sources said in Jammu.

Most of the passengers include Vaishnodevi pilgrims returning after paying their obeisance at the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi. Two social organisations and the state unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad have organised community kitchens at the railway station since yesterday to provide food for the stranded pilgrims. The number of stranded passengers is likely to go up as pilgrims are continuing to return from Vaishnodevi shrine as also other people, who were scheduled to leave from Jammu station to other parts of the country. Several hundred passengers have already left for Delhi and other stations through alternative modes of road transport.

Senior district officers of Jammu and SSP, Jammu, Manohar Singh have visited the railway station and were monitoring basic amenities like water, medicines, food for the passengers. Authorities have also set up some mobile toilet vans for the convenience of the stranded people. About 300 followers of Guru Ravi Dass Sabha had taken out a peaceful protest march in the city here yesterday to protest the death of Dera Sachkhand leader Sant Rama Nand, who was killed in Vienna. Railway authorities are in touch with Punjab government and are waiting for the situation to normalise so that passengers can resume their onward journey.

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Sikh priest wounded in Vienna gurdwara attack dies Monday, May 25 2009 

A visiting Indian guru died early Monday after being shot in a clash between rival religious communities at a gurdwara in Vienna in which about 30 people were injured, police announced.The guru, Sant Rama Nand, 56, one of two visiting the Austrian capital, died of his wounds in hospital after Sikh followers clashed with knives and at least one gun at a gurdwara in Vienna on Sunday, a police spokesman said.

“The surgeon said at first he was satisfied with his patient’s condition after an emergency operation,” the spokesman said. “But the patient lost consciousness and died shortly after midnight (0330 IST),” he added. The condition of the second wounded guru, Sant Niranjan Dass, 66, was described as stable, the spokesman said. The two gurus belonged to the Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha movement.

The clash broke out around 1:30 pm (1700 IST)and saw the perpetrators pull out knives and a gun as the gurus visiting from India gave a sermon at the temple, where some 200 people had gathered. Others in the audience pounced on the attackers, whom a witness said were wearing yellow and blue turbans, and subdued them, according to police.

“Six people did not agree” with the sermon, police spokesman Michael Takacs told Austrian public radio. “One drew a firearm, the others knives. The six people were overpowered by members of the community and seriously injured.”