The security forces leaving for election duty in Goa were in for a rude shock when they found that only eight three-tier sleeper coaches were allotted for 1,482 jawans. The forces had sought 20 such coaches for the three-night-four-day journey from Ferozepur to Vasco da Gama railway station in Goa.
Sources in the Union railway ministry said that eight sleeper class and 12 general class coaches (which have only seating arrangement) were sanctioned as per the recommendation of Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Upset over the allotment,R K Avasthi,Commandant,Border Home Wing,said,They have to spend three nights and 4 days in the train. It is not possible for them to go sitting in general class.
A maximum of 850 person can be accommodated in the eight sleeper coaches, he added,hinting that most jawans will have to share the berths or sleep on the floor.
It may be noted that the railways had charged Rs 11.5 lakh,excluding the tickets,for the special train from Ferozepur to Vasco da Gama for the staff on election duty.
Avasthi said that 10 companies of Border Wing Homeguard would board the train from Ferozepur while four battalions of Indian reserve battalion (IRB) would board the train from Dhuri.
A senior officer said that the requisition for the coaches was sent well in time. The Railways has allotted one 3-tier AC coach for the officers.
Most of the jawans present at the station said that the Central government has no right to treat them like animals. The government wants us to travel stacked one over the other. Its high time they started treating us as humans, a jawan said.
Though the officers were seen busy approaching the higher ups to get more sleeper coaches for the Jawans,but nothing could be arranged till the time of filing of this report.
Queried,divisional railways manager (DRM) ,Vishvesh Chaubey,said,The forces going on election duty come under the Ministry of Home Affairs and as such their demand letter (for the coaches) was sent to the MHA. We had booked the bogies as per the sanction sent by the MHA.