July 23, 2020 1:01:15 am
Hundreds of commuters got onto railway tracks and blocked trains in Nallasopara on Wednesday morning, demanding to be allowed to travel on the suburban train service. After being shut since March 23, suburban train services partially resumed from June 15 but only for essential service providers.
A large group at Nallasopara was waiting for a long time on Wednesday morning for an MSRTC bus to reach their workplace. Authorities from the depot, however, announced that only essential service providers with government identity cards will be allowed to board.
The group then barged into a nearby railway station at around 8.20 am and got onto the tracks to demand travel arrangements for them to earn their livelihood. The group stood on the tracks, blocking a Virar-bound train, demanding to be allowed to commute on trains.
“We were without work for the major part of the lockdown. Now that our offices have opened, we have no way to commute as we don’t have government ID cards. The government has created a difficult situation for us,” said Jagruti Jitendra Daokar, one of the protesters. Dandekar said she waited for two hours for the bus, only to be told that she could not get on board without a government ID.
The railway police, however, managed to disperse the group from the station. Following this, the protesters moved to the bus depot. As the situation grew tense, the MSRTC depot was shut down and additional police force was called in.
“We wanted to start buses early, but it became difficult as the crowd did not listen and there was no way to ensure distancing,” said an MSRTC official. According to sources, the MSRTC is also dealing with staff shortage.
Bus services only resumed around 10.30 pm with heavy bandobast. While the MSRTC runs around 300 bus services from Nallasopara, a spokesperson from the transport undertaking said, “We have deployed additional staff and scheduled buses from Nallasopara to meet the growing need.”
Sumit Thakur, Chief Public Relations Officer of the Western Railway, said, “A case was registered under Sections 145, 147 and 174 (a) of the Railway Act. Passengers were cleared from the station by 8.45 am, when the situation became normal.”
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