Mumbai: An angry crowd of 200-odd people (non-essential workers) threw caution to the wind and protested on the railway tracks at Nallasopara station over “discontinuation” of bus services on Wednesday morning. Rail and road traffic was thrown out of gear at Nalasopara for two hours.
The sudden protest disrupted the schedule of the local trains. MSRTC officials said they discontinued the bus services at the behest of the police who noticed that people were not observing social and physical distancing norms.
Railway officials said commuters entered the Nallasopara station, located in the neighbouring Palghar district, and jumped on rail tracks and stopped a local train briefly. The protest continued for two hours. The local police and government railway police intervened to clear the protesters from the tracks. “The state transport bus services were unavailable from the Nallasopara bus stand, following which the agitated passengers barged inside the railway station and stopped the trains around 8 am. They demanded to travel in the trains with the essential staff of the government,” said railway officials.
An office-goer complained that MSRTC stopped plying buses to Mumbai due to which many employees of private companies were stranded as they were not allowed to board the local “essential service” trains either.
The Railways last month resumed suburban train services in Mumbai for ferrying staff of the essential services. The services were halted in March this year following the outbreak of COVID-19. Sumit Thakur, chief public relation officer, WR said, “Nearly 200 people entered the station around 8.25 am and jumped on the tracks as the state transport bus services were disrupted. “A local train (going to Virar) was stopped by commuters at platform no.1 of the Nallasopara station from 8.27 am to 8.31 am,” said Thakur. He said the police and GRP pacified the people and suburban services resumed around 8.45 am.
Security was beefed up at the railway station and bus stand. The MSRTC later arranged buses at the Nalasopara bus stand and the crowd dispersed after services resumed from there at around 10.30 am.
A spokesperson of the MSRTC said nearly 4,000 people came to the Nallasopara bus stand in the morning. They generally operate 300 services every day from Nallasopara, but since Tuesday, there was a sudden increase in the number of passengers and they were asking to be permitted to travel in buses meant for the essential service employees. “We had to discontinue the bus service on the request of the police as people were not following the social distancing norms and it was also impossible to arrange extra buses at that time,” he said. “Considering the growing demand of passengers, extra buses will be arranged in future,” he added.