HOWRAH: Commuters ran amok at the Bargachhia station under the South Eastern Railway (SER) on Thursday morning, assaulting the station manager, two pointsmen and causing extensive damage to the station building. The vandalism continued for nearly half an hour before the police and Railway Protection Force swung into action and dispersed the mob. Three persons were arrested on charges of damaging public property and assaulting on-duty government employees.
Trouble started around 7.30am when a Howrah-bound local train was waiting at the station. It being a single line section, the train could only start after a train from Santragchhi was moved to the loop line at a crossing beyond the Bargachhia station. Before the Down train could cross to the loop line though, the crossover point developed a technical glitch. The station staff, including station manager Subir Bar, got busy in ‘setting’ the point manually and issuing a paper signal to the motorman so he could move his train to the loop line and clear the tracks for the Howrah-bound local.
Though frequent announcements were made over the public address system at Bargachhia station, informing commuters about the cause for the delay, a mob suddenly rushed towards the station building and began ransacking it. The relay room, power supply room and ticket booking office bore the brunt of the commuters’ ire.
“When I tried to reason with the commuters, they started heckling me. Suddenly, a few of the commuters started beating me up. Pointsmen Subhendu Chakraborty and P Das came to my rescue but they were also thrashed. The mob wouldn’t listen to reason when I told them that the train could only start after the Down one had been shifted to the loop line,” Bar said.
The mob retreated only after the police reached the station, accompanied by locals who protested against the vandalism and wanton violence. The Howrah-bound train finally started from Bargachhia station at 8.06am but the commuters got off at Domjur and started an agitation. Train services were disrupted again for nearly half an hour. Meanwhile, Bar was moved to the railway hospital at Santragachhi for first-aid.
“We do our best to maintain normal services.
Technical glitches do occur and we expect passengers to co-operate. In this case, there were announcements and daily passengers should know that two trains can’t be run at the same time in a single-line section. We don’t expect such behaviour from them,” said Soumitra Majumdar, Chief Public Relations Officer, SER.