An attempt to stage a rail roko protest during peak hours today morning at Thane’s Kalwa station by NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad, which he dubbed as the ‘mother of all protests’, was foiled by railway officials.
Awhad had called for the agitation at Kalwa station to protest against the casual approach of railway authorities towards the safety of suburban commuters after the stampede on the foot overbridge of Elphinstone Road station on Friday which killed 23 passengers.
“Elaborate security arrangements were put in place which prevented the protesters from stopping the trains, however, they held up a 9.22 am local at Kalwa station (between Thane and Kalyan),” a senior Central Railway official told PTI.
He said the train was held up for a few minutes, before the jawans of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railway Police and city police dispersed the protesters from the spot.
Although no untoward incident took place during the protest, CR services on the route were delayed by around 15 minutes.
NCP party workers also held another protest at Jogeshwari station, where they blocked the tracks for approximately 2 minutes.
Justifying his rail roko call, Awhad, a NCP legislator from the Mumbra-Kalwa belt, said, “Despite several reminders, railway administration has turned a deaf ear to the commuters woes and rising fatalities and hardships were due to the failure of the Central Railway administration to cater to rush hour crowd.”
The NCP MLA said, “Over 20,000 innocent passengers have lost their lives in last five years because of the poor infrastructure of the Central and Western Railways.
“Over 3,000 innocent passengers have lost their lives only in Thane-Kalwa section which is also known as a killer stretch. I want to know what Railways is doing to save the precious lives of the passengers.”
Awhad said, “We don’t believe in the tall promises made and fake assurances given by the Railway Ministers.”
He also slammed the Bullet Train project saying such a train was introduced just to “show-off” to the world at the cost of the lives of thousands of passengers who die for want of basis amenities.
Meanwhile, railway activists and commuters slammed the protesters for “aggravating” the situation by holding up the local trains during peak office hour rush.
“Rail roko at Kalwa just a gimmick by obsolete politicians. Police should crack down. Mumbai life cannot be stopped this way,” tweeted Subhagat Das.
Subhash Gupta, president of the Rail Yatri Sangh Mumbai and member of National Railway Users Consultative Committee (NRUCC) said, “It is extremely unfortunate that these leaders are aggravating the woes of the passengers to push their political agenda. Railway administration should book these protesters to prevent such incidents in future.”
Although no official action has been taken against the protestors, a senior railway official has confirmed that they will be booked under relevant sections for attempting to disrupt rail services.
Many commuters also took to social media to criticise the MLA who, according to eye-witnesses, arrived at Kalwa for a few minutes during the protest and left the spot after speaking to the media.
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Protest start at Kalwa station https://t.co/V8tzaScx4i
— Kalwa Pravasi Sangha (@Parsikpravasi) October 3, 2017