On June 1, a 35-year-old woman died at Kalwa station while fighting off a mobile thief. Ten days later, the passenger associations claim that checks at railway stations are mere joke as when thieves manage to enter station premises, why can’t more categories of public be allowed in local trains. Earlier this week, a representation was also made to the railway authorities for the same.
The members of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, Rail Yatri Sangh and Federation of Suburban Passengers Association went to meet the Central Railway officials demanding opening up the suburban trains to more people on essential duties. They also want better safety and security measures to be taken inside local trains plus initial compensation of Rs 50,000 be paid to the family of Vidya Patil who died in the incident.
“First of all we have demanded immediate compensation of Rs 50,000 to the family of Vidya Patil. Also, we raised the issue of allowing people from larger categories to be allowed to travel in local trains. When thieves and people allegedly carrying fake IDs enter rail premises, common public on essential duties should also be allowed,” said Kailash Verma of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Since June 7, the suburban trains are carrying an average of 10 lakh more passengers on essential duties since easing restrictions. The total passenger count on both Central and Western Railways have touched 30 lakh which used to be around 20 lakh until June 4. The railways claim that they will allow only those categories which have been currently approved by the state government and BMC.
“When common people are not allowed then how is it that thieves and hawkers enter with ease?” questions Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Sangh who also attended this meeting.
Senior railway officials said that the issue between stations of Thane and Kalyan is that the entry into stations and rail premises are easier. “The boundary walls aren’t there, platforms are next to the road and access becomes easy for people. That is the reason why it is difficult to monitor entry and exit at these stations,” explained a railway official.
The need for CCTVs and panic button inside women’s compartment was also discussed. “We have demanded that at least those who have taken two vaccine doses be allowed inside local trains. The presence of Home Guards and MSSF should also be increased at station premises,” said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president, Federation of Suburban Passengers Association who was also part of the meeting.
On June 1, Vidya Patil fell from the local train into the gap of the platform and train at Kalwa station while grappling with thief who snatched her mobile phone and then pushed her. She had boarded from Kurla and was on her way to her residence in Dombivali.
Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO, Central Railway said: "Passengers as identified by state government are permitted to travel in suburban local trains. Our authorities are co-ordinating with state government for any further decision in this regard".
Under the 'Smart Sahelee' scheme 85 WhatsApp groups have been formed for immediate attention of grievances & meet emergencies of women. In these WhatsApp groups, RPF mentors (ladies RPF Staff) are ensuring maximum participation of lady commuters.
"Around 110 suburban services are being escorted daily over Mumbai Division by two armed RPF personnel in each train for prevention of crime against passengers (including ladies’ passengers) & their belonging and protection," added Sutar. Simple system of communication is available 24*7 through Railway Helpline 139 and GRP Railway Helpline 1512.