Flash protest cripples train services, 15 policemen hurt in stone pelting.
Mumbai: Despite having intelligence inputs on the rail roko protest, the authorities on Tuesday failed to stop the agitation by activists of the All India Act Apprentice Association at Dadar-Matunga, which crippled the rail traffic in the city from 7 am to 10.30 am.
Thousands of commuters were left stranded due to delays. Around 68 trains were cancelled. The railways ran 30 special services from Kurla towards Kalyan on the main central line section for the commuters.
The protestors were demanding that the 20 per cent quota for direct recruitment and jobs for local candidates who had cleared the All India Railway Act Apprentice Exams in all states be scrapped.
The police had information on the likelihood of an agitation and rioting near Matunga station a day before, said railway police sources.
The Government Railway Police (GRP), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Mumbai police had even put up bandobast, but they did not anticipate the gravity of the protest, said sources. The network of CCTV cameras on stations and in the city proved ineffective.
The agitation took a violent turn when some of the participants resorted to stone-pelting. The RPF, GRP and the police were pressed into action to control the situation. The police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the angry mob.
At least 15 GRP and RPF personnel were injured, including senior inspector Nitin Bonde. After three and a half hours, the agitation was called off as the railways responded and promised the agitators a final response in two days.
“There was information since yesterday of the agitation likely to take place at the Matunga workshop. Accordingly, around a 150-strong railway police force and 170 city police personnel were deployed at the spot,” said a GRP officer. However, the input failed to help the police as it had not anticipated that protester would gather in such large numbers. The police had to call in for reinforcements to control the crowd.
“The crowds refused to budge following our mediation and they pushed the personnel and flooded the railway tracks. They resisted our move to push them out and pelted stones in which 15 policemen of the GRP and RPF were injured,” said Samadhan Pawar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, GRP Central Railway.
Officials said that the agitation is suspected to have been politically motivated. There are also reports of the agitators being tutored to carry out a violent protest. Around 800-1,000 people assembled outside Matunga workshop at 6.55am, where they were trained as apprentices.
The GRP has registered a case against 1,000 unknown agitators and arrested two persons with help of the CCTV camera footage. The accused have been identified as Gokul Lohar (26) from Jalgaon and Aatish Saav (22) originally from Bihar. The accused have been booked for attempt to murder, rioting, deterring public servants from performing their duty, endangering life and personal safety of others as per Indian Penal Code, under sections of the Railway Act and the Maharashtra Police act. The police is also scanning the CCTV footage on stations and in the city to identify the groups that travelled outside Matunga workshop. They will be arrested in the same case that will be probed by railway and city police.