Mumbai: Central Railway Motorman's Death Sparks Workers' Backlash, Union Boycott Amid Speculations Of Suicide

Mumbai: Central Railway Motorman's Death Sparks Workers' Backlash, Union Boycott Amid Speculations Of Suicide

While the railway authorities assert the incident as a matter of trespassing, social media platforms are abuzz with messages speculating on the possibility of it being a suicide.

Kamal MishraUpdated: Friday, February 09, 2024, 11:16 PM IST
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Murli Dhar Sharma |

In a heart-wrenching incident on a Friday afternoon, a motorman of Central Railways Murli Dhar Sharma (54) lost his life between Byculla and Sandhurst Road stations after allegedly being run over by a speeding train. The unfortunate event occurred after deceased Sharma had completed his work schedule of the day.

Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma's tragic incident, as per the union, was a consequence of the overwhelming workload imposed by overtime duties.

Sharma's career with the Central Railways

Sharma had joined Central Railways in 2002 as an assistant goods train driver and was promoted to a motorman in November 2022. Hailing from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, he resided in Kalyan. Union representatives claim Sharma was under immense pressure, adding a tragic layer to the circumstances.

Survived by his wife Sapna and two children, a 12-year-old daughter, and a ten-year-old son, Sharma was the sole earner of the family. While the railway authorities assert the incident as a matter of trespassing, social media platforms are abuzz with messages speculating on the possibility of it being a suicide.

The Central Railways spokesperson said that it trespassing case. The individual might have been attempting to cross the track and unfortunately encountered a speeding train.

Workers union allege suicide

However workers union alleged that its happened because tremendous pressure.

"I am very much depressed to hear the signal passing at danger ( SPAD)  case of a Panvel CSMT on Friday at near Kurla moterman Muralidhar Sharma and his death in subsequent to the incident. This is because of the reason that Motorman of  the said Panvel -CSMT local Sharma must have frustrated and gone into deep depression immediately after the SPAD case as frightened about the serious action taken by the Railway Administration."

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma |

"Time and again National Railway Mazdoor Union was urged to fill up the hundreds of vacancies in the Running Cadre. On one side, the Railway Administration ignored the seriousness of the demand and on the other side, it increased the number of trains a day without fulfilling the existing vacancies and without creating new posts on par with the newly introduced trains. As a result, there  are huge number of posts lying unfilled and loco pilot/Motormen are compelled to perform after duty hours to meet the demand which causes mistakes sometimes. Like little bit overshooting of RED Signal while stopping the train before red signals" said Venu Nair, General Secretary of National Railway Mazdoor Union ( NRMU).

"NRMU has very elaborately placed it's stand at various forums so that no Loco Pilot / Motormen deliberately pass any Signal in danger. However, sometimes in consequence of various factors, if loco pilots / Motormen were bound to overshoot the Signal a little bit and such signal overshooting cases should not be treated on par with signal passing at danger cases and the penalty of removal from service should not be imposed to both the cases as the mistake are not done deliberately." 

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma |

"Since the Railway administration is dealing with signal overshooting cases and SPAD cases very harshly by imposing the penalty of removal from service, today Motorman like Murali Dhar Sharma has lost his life. There have been similar incidents in the past at various divisions of Indian Railways," further added Nair.

Similarly division chairman of Central Railways Mazdoor Sangh Vivek Shishodia said, "This tragic incident happened due to the tremendous pressure; Murali Dhar Sharma might have missed the speeding train and got run over. After the completion of the day schedule, Sharma was on his way to Byculla hospital." 

Central Railways Mazdoor Sangh Announces Overtime Boycott

In a sombre response to the untimely demise of Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma, the Central Railways Mazdoor Sangh has taken a decisive stance against overtime work. The union has prominently displayed a board in the motorman running room at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) with a resolute message - "No Extra."

The union asserts that the additional responsibilities forced upon him may have led to him missing a crucial signal, ultimately resulting in the unfortunate incident.

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma

Family members of the deceased Motorman Murli Dhar Sharma |

This move by the Central Railways Mazdoor Sangh is expected to spark discussions on workers' rights and the impact of excessive overtime on the safety and well-being of railway staff. The union's decision to forego overtime is a poignant reminder of the critical importance of addressing work-related stressors in ensuring the safety of railway operations.

Urgent Plea for Change in Rail Safety Norms

In a sombre letter addressed to the Divisional Railway Manager of Central Railways Mumbai division, Raj Kumar, the Divisional Secretary of CRMS ( Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh) Mumbai Division, expressed deep regret over the tragic incident that claimed the life of Motorman Murali Dhar Sharma on Friday. The incident, attributed to signal passing at danger (SPAD), has ignited concerns about the pervasive fear of punishment and humiliation among the running staff.

CRMS Mumbai Division highlighted that the fear of SPAD consequences has instilled serious apprehension in the minds of the entire running staff. The letter emphasizes that SPAD occurrences are not solely the fault of Loco Crews, pointing to various contributing factors. Despite multiple reminders by CRMS  at different levels within the railway hierarchy, no proactive steps have been taken to revise the norms of punishment in SPAD cases.

The letter underscores (FPJ has the copy) the gravity of the situation, questioning how long the running staff will continue to face the risk of fatalities in such a challenging working environment. CRMS Mumbai Division urgently calls for a revision of norms pertaining to punishment in SPAD cases, emphasizing that delays in addressing this issue could soon impact the smooth running of trains. The letter concludes with a firm demand for prompt action, expressing discontent with what is perceived as an indifferent attitude from the Administration.

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