Mumbaikars’ desperation to travel by local trains is apparent as the number of people caught trying to enter train stations with fake ‘essential worker’ ID cards is on the rise. The Western Railway (WR) has detected several cases of fake ID card holders who have been travelling in the Special Suburban services.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens are currently not allowed to travel in suburban trains, considered the lifeline of Mumbai. As of now, state and central government staff, employees of nationalised and private banks and others essential services staff are permitted to travel on the special suburban services.
Sumit Thakur, Chief Public Relations Officer of Western Railway, in a statement said that on an average, daily 20 cases of dubious/suspicious ID cases have been detected and penalised. "Since the start of special local trains from 15th June till 2nd October 2020, five FIR cases have been registered with GRP in fraud ID cases under various sections of Indian Penal Code," Thakur said.
Since June 15, the Western Railway (WR) has fined 4,555 commuters travelling without a ticket. A total of Rs 23.24 lakh has been collected in fines, said Sumit Thakur.
The Western Railway's statement further said that a man was arrested for travelling in Mumbai local train by allegedly using a fake identity card. "The ID had the picture of the holder with Aadhaar card number and WR logo along with letter number. On further probing, it was revealed that he works at a construction site in Borivali and had procured the authority letter fraudulently. The suspect was handed over to GRP and FIR was lodged," the WR statement said.
In another case, a passenger was caught at Andheri station with a forged ID card. "During the course of interrogation, he revealed that he works in a photocopier shop and his boss had given him fake ID cards for other employees too. He also revealed that atleast 50 to 60 persons are carrying these fake emergency passes. The suspect was handed over to GRP and an FIR was lodged," the WR said in the statement. While two people were caught at Borivali station for carrying fake ID cards issued by same agent. The agent was arrested and is now out on bail.
Meanwhile, a person was detained with a suspicious ID card Mira Road. He later confessed to procuring fake ID cards of Cleaning Staff of BMC at the cost of Rs 1000.
The Western Railway has said that all these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg and it is trying its best to unearth this big scam.
Railway authorities started operating special local trains for the essential services staff since mid-June and at present, the Central Railway and the Western Railway are collectively operating 923 services every day. During normal times, over 80 lakh commuters used to travel on suburban locals in a day.
But following the outbreak of COVID-19, common citizens are not allowed to board these trains and hence, they have to rely on other modes of transport like civic-run buses, auto-rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles.
With no local trains for general public, Mumbaikars are facing tremendous hardships due to limited transportation facilities. While, the state continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing demand among Mumbaikars for the restarting of local trains. The demand gained momentum, after Maharashtra government opened more offices.