The Vellayil railway station, poor cousin to the district’s main station, has become a hub for antisocial activities and a constant source of headache for those in the neighbourhood.
Located in the major residential areas of Nadakkavu and Vellayil in the city, the station platforms are home to unidentified persons, tipplers, substance abusers, and street harassers thanks to the lack of regular night patrolling by the police.
G. Sparjan Kumar, City Police Commissioner, told on Sunday that it is “difficult” to keep a tab on every problem of the city.
“But we will take this up and ensure night-patrolling,” he said. But promises apart, residents say they live in constant fear. “We cannot approach these people lying around on the platforms directly because they may identify us and our families and do something drastic. Most of them lie there, passed out. We keep a watch on them because we are scared for the safety of our children,” Syed Kamal, convenor of Ayalppakam, a collective of residents whose houses are directly located behind the station platform on the eastern side.
The elevated position of the railway station platform provides anti-socials a clear view inside the houses of the residents.
On October 2, two packets of ganja weighing a kg were found while cleaning the railway station premises near the sixth railway gate. Two theft cases and one attempted burglary, including one vehicle lifting, were reported recently from the vicinity. A series of four burglaries were reported in the residential area over a year ago.
Since there are no night trains stopping at Vellayil, all the lights on the two platforms are switched off after 9 p.m., leaving the entire place dark.
“Last week, two thefts were reported from my neighbourhood. A drug pusher was picked up from the railway station after a resident complained to the police. In the night, we often hear loud drunk arguments and abuses from the platforms. Miscreants use the waiting sheds at the railway station for drunk brawls. We cannot see a thing as there is no light. To make matters worse, Railways do not clear the thick bush growing on the platforms. This is used as a cover by people to hide liquor bottles and ganja packets,” A. Jayaprakash, secretary, Choyunni Master Road Residents Association on the western side, said.
Anti-social elements also camp at the four railway quarters abandoned by Railways years ago. Residents cleared the undergrowth in the quarters after the anti-social used the place for immoral trafficking and drug abuse. Students walking to and fro from the nearby Providence Girls’ Higher Secondary School too have to face street harassers and drunkards on the platforms.
With hardly any consistent help from the police, residents have now taken it upon themselves to patrol the platforms during the nights.
“On Saturday, we found a group getting ready to start a booze party at 12 a.m. and stopped them. We are not aware of the identity of persons loitering on the premises. Some of them hop off a train, have a drinking session on the platform and leave by the next train,” Mr. Jayaprakash said.