Veterans in the field of politics, media and social service visit the modest memorial in Bhayandar on February 5 every year to commemorate the martyrs who were killed in police firing during an agitation to highlight the poor frequency of local train services.
Agitation in 1985 about increasing the frequency of local trains
The memorial, a modestly raised marble plinth with a plaque bearing a brief text in remembrance of seven martyrs who fell to police bullets during a Rail-Roko agitation on that day, now lies ignored.
“The civic administration should give a face lift to this memorial. The plaque is sometimes encroached upon by roadside vendors and stall owners to display wares thus hiding it from public view," questions Subhash Pandey, a regular participant of the memorial service.
The memorial stands as a tribute to protesting martyrs who fell to police bullets during a spontaneous agitation in 1984 held by passengers seeking increased frequency of local trains to cope with the ever increasing demand due to the expanding population in this extended suburb. This was followed by a peaceful cyclic hunger strike launched from January 30, 1985 under the aegis of Bhayandar Sangharsh Seva Samithi led by veteran social activist-Gautam Jain.
Protesters held up Rajdhani Express, led to police firing
However, when repeated requests and a hunger strike failed to attract the attention of authorities, protesters held up the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express to highlight the issue. Holding up a prestigious train like the Rajdhani had apparently offended the then political bosses and the number of protestors had swelled.
As per official records, 12 protesters lost their lives when the police opened fire to quell the agitation, seven of the deceased were identified while five remained unidentified.
Plaque sometimes encroached upon by vendors, needs face lift
“The agitation and sacrifice of these martyrs grabbed national attention and gradually the frequency of local trains started increasing along with enhanced rail-related infrastructure facilities. Today apart from being an origin station, frequency clocks at 5 minutes,” said P.L. Chaturvedi, one of the original agitators who was also the editor of ‘Bhayander Bhoomi’.
“The civic administration should give a face lift to this memorial. The plaque is sometimes encroached upon by roadside vendors and stall owners to display wares thus hiding it from public view. Is this not an insult to our martyrs?" questions Subhash Pandey.
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