Over 300 passengers of 12792 Patna-Secunderabad Express train were harassed and had to miss out on their journey despite having valid reservation at Varanasi railway station as aspirants for a railway examination virtually laid siege to the Secunderabad-bound train Friday evening.
The authorities were found lacking in their preparedness Friday even as a similar situation was witnessed Thursday.
For more than six hours, there protests, slogan-shouting and even stone-pelting by the aspirants at Mughal Sarai and Varanasi railway stations.
The harassed passengers were able to go forward only after they were provided a special train around 2.30 am on Saturday.
Union Minister of State (Railways) Manoj Sinha, who was in Varanasi Saturday, reportedly had a brief interaction with the officials at the railway station while on his way to Ghazipur, however, it could not be confirmed if the issue came up for a serious review.
Divisional Railway Manager (Lucknow), Northern Railways, Jagdip Rai, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.
The railway authorities in Varanasi blamed their Patna counterparts for not taking effective steps to prevent aspirants of the railway examination from barging into the train. They alleged they did not even inform the stations along the route about the situation.
The Railways is holding the examination for Diesel Assistant Loco-Pilot at Secunderabad on June 29. A large number of aspirants from Patna had to reach Secunderabad for the same. The Patna-Secunderabad is the only direct train for the destination.
On Friday evening, when the train reached Mughal Sarai, the GRP, RPF and the Civil Police came to know that a large number of aspirants had entered all the reserved coaches. When the police and the authorities asked them to vacate the trains, the aspirants began protesting. “They blocked the track and also resorted to stone-pelting. They wanted either a special train or be allowed to travel in the same train,” said Inspector (GRP), Varanasi, Anil Rai.
The train remained stationed at Mughal Sarai for around an hour before moving to Varanasi, where it reached around 6.45 pm.
“More than 300 passengers could not get in because the aspirants did not vacate the reserved coaches. They were angry and protested against the railway staff,” said Chief Area Manager (Varanasi), Pankaj Saxena. The train was, however, allowed to move by 7.30 pm to its forward destination of Allahabad.
After the train left, the stranded passengers stormed into the office of the Station Manager, who, however, had left office and was reportedly huddled in a meeting with other senior officials.
“We provided a six-coach special train, which had AC coaches also, to the stranded passengers. This would take them straight to Secunderabad. While most of the passengers were for Secunderabad, the train would have similar stoppages as that of Patna-Secunderabad,” said Saxena.