MUMBAI: The Government Railway Police (GRP) warned the Railways of the possibility of violence by commuters at railway stations on Thursday and Friday morning if services were cancelled or delayed. The warning came against the backdrop of passenger protests at various stations on Tuesday and Wednesday as services had been crippled due to water-logging on tracks. Fortunately, no untoward incident was reported on Thursday.
“A close watch may be kept on punctuality of trains on Thursday and Friday morning. All railway personnel be suitably sensitised. Any cancellation or delay of trains in the morning can lead to serious law and order problems,” said a letter by GRP chief Niket Kaushik to the railways.
A major law and order problem was averted at CST at 5am on Wednesday when around 500 irate passengers agitated against the the Railways’ inefficiency in communicating with them after suspension of services. Throughout Tuesday night, passengers had waited at CST for the Railways to make some announcement about resuming services or alternative transport.
The crowd was angry that nobody from the Railways established a dialogue with them about rescue operations. They were also unhappy about food not being provided by the authorities. “We had to dispatch nearly 100 personnel to control the crowd and calm it down,” said DCP Samadhan Pawar. The GRP feared the crowd would go on a rampage and smash infrastructure at the terminus or beat up railway officials.
“There were people living in Kalyan and Badlapur. They had families waiting for them back home and wanted to know if they could be dropped till Thane at least. We had to handle the situation very tactfully,” said Pawar. The GRP contacted BEST and sent female passengers home on priority in five to six buses. Political party workers and NGOs stepped in and made arrangements for snacks.
“A decision was taken to run special trains, in the wake of the situation at CST, and the first special train left at 7.26am,” said a senior railway official. “Train services would have resumed only in afternoon as we had to shift marooned rakes, but we gave passengers a priority as they were stranded and frustrated. So, with the help of GRP and after consulting senior officials, the first special train was run and removal of marooned rakes was postponed,” the official added. BEST buses simultaneously ferried passengers through Eastern Freeway to Thane.
Similar agitations were seen at Dadar on Wednesday afternoon and Kurla early on Wednesday. At Kurla, passengers threw a broken banner on the tracks.