Trains disrupted in Thane, agitating commuters cane-charged
Thane/Mumbai: Train services were disrupted here Friday during the morning peak hour prompting commuters to agitate and attack railway officials, forcing the police to resort to a cane charge.
Thousands of commuters rushing to their offices in south Mumbai and other areas were left stranded as the train services were disrupted or delayed after a wire snapped near the Thakurli railway station here around 6.45 a.m.
Many commuters started an impromptu agitation by squatting on the railway track at the next station, Diva.
Police were called in to control the situation and they resorted to mild caning to remove the agitating commuters from the railway tracks.
Irked by the cane-charge, the commuters retaliated by attacking railway officials and injured at least one motorman, while others pelted stones at vehicles parked outside the station premises.
Additional forces were rushed to the spot, but the crowd damaged around half a dozen private and government vehicles. There were also reports of three other vehicles being set on fire.
The angry crowd did not spare the railway station premises either and attacked the stalls and railway property while senior leaders, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, appealed for peace.
The chaos resulted in a virtual paralysis of the suburban train network – the lifeline of Mumbai which ferries over seven million commuters daily – servicing the crucial Mumbai-Thane-Raigad regions.
After nearly six hours, Central Railway managed to start skeletal services after noon, though the working day was wasted for several thousands of stranded office-goers.
Thane Guardian Minister and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil rushed to Diva to take stock of the situation and appealed to commuters to remain peaceful.
“We are aware of the acute problems the commuters are facing on this section… The centre has been apprised of this and steps are being initiated to mitigate the issues.. I appeal to all commuters to cooperate with the authorities,” Shinde urged.
Furious commuters blasted the state and central governments and the railways for not seriously attending to the complaints of Mumbai commuters who have been at the receiving end for decades.
“Grandiose schemes are announced, but where is the implementation… Even a minor problem like a broken pantograph can derail the entire system… How is this possible? Why is there no alternative? People have to suffer regularly due to the apathy of the railways and the state/central governments,” said an agitated commuter, A.R. Patil.
The MSRTC, Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Transport, Thane Municipal Corporation and Mumbai’s BEST deployed additional buses to clear the rush of stranded commuters but most preferred to return home.