Historic Jammu-Sialkot rail line in oblivion

Disregarded By Govt Remnants Of Heritage

Publish Date: Jun 4 2012 12:00PM

Jammu, June 3: Having been witness to one of the significant transitory phases of history in this part of the world, the remnants of Jammu-Sialkot rail link are gradually fading away in absence of any measures to preserve the remains of the oldest narrow gauge track.
 Pertinently, the first ever train had entered the state through this track years before the partition of the sub-continent.
 Even as this once vital transportation route has got lost in oblivion, subsequent governments in the state have failed to preserve the remains of this historically, politically and emotionally important link. To the great dismay of the coming generations, whatever is left is gradually fading away in absence of any move either by the state archaeological department or by the Archaeological Survey of India.
 More so, this heritage rail line has not attracted the attention of the government even when it has been making tall claims to promote border tourism.
 Senior people of RS Pura town love to talk about those good old days. “People with merchandise used to move freely between Jammu and Sialkot as trade and commerce was flourishing between the two cities at that time. RS Pura was a hub of activities as people from the adjoining villages on both sides of the border used to bring their sugar produce to the only nearby sugarcane-mill located here,” say a group of aged locals.
 The building of RS Pura railway station and the railway line and its adjacent land far up to Jammu has been encroached by the people - because there was no official record with Northern Railway authorities, said 80 years old Bansi Lal whipping his eyes hidden behind his wrinkled eyelids as if trying to revive the decades old site .
 The locality established on the railway line near erstwhile R S Pura railway station is called “Patri”. Mostly the refugees hailing from erstwhile Poonch state are now residing on the Railway line (Patri) of Jammu-Sialkot railway link.
 Bansi Lal said; “The handle to change the railway tracks is still available in a lane of ward number 10 of R S Pura Township. Many times burglars tried to dig it out but their efforts ended up in failure – perhaps in the 80 years this has grown deep roots.”
 He further said the length of Jammu and Sialkot railway link was only 20 kilometers. The coal engine train would come from Sialkot and after passing through RS Pura the last destination of train was Vikram Chowk Railway station where a water pump to fill the steam engine was the only sign of the station.
 “Meeran Sahib, R S Pura, Suchetgarh, Sialkot were the stations of the steam engine train. There was only one train service from Sialkot to Jammu in the morning which would pass from RS Pura station at around 8 am. The departure time of the train from Vikram Chowk railway station to Sialkot was 11 am,” he added.
 The railway quarters which were constructed for the railway employees at R S Pura Railway station have been encroached upon by the locals, he said, adding that he had a childhood experience of journey by that train when he visited the Kansarpur village of erstwhile district Sialkot.
 Another local Manvinder Singh maintained that before partition R S Pura was fast emerging as a business centre. “There are many old and ancient buildings of Maharaja time in R S Pura. The ancient buildings, now in ruins, are the symbols of rich cultural heritage but unfortunately these are not being preserved by the state government,” he rued.
 He further said that once he learnt that the state government was planning to declare R S Pura railway station a heritage site but till date no action has been taken. “The RS Pura railway station is an ancient structure and if it is not preserved immediately it would disappear some day,” he added, and urged state government to take due care of this historic site.

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