Suburban Thane witnessed commuter rage today as irate rail passengers indulged in arson, pelted stones at police and staged a ‘rasta roko’ after train services on Central Railway route were disrupted due to technical failure, prompting police to cane-charge the protestors.
The suburban train services on the Harbour line also came to a halt after some motormen were injured in the violence and refused to operate trains due to security issues.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reviewed the situation after the outbreak of train commuters’ fury and appealed the people to maintain peace.
“The Chief Minister has appealed for peace. Police is taking all steps to restore peace,” Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil told reporters here.
“The CM is monitoring the situation every five minutes. He has spoken to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu,” he said.
Angry rail commuters staged a ‘rail roko’ at Diva station between Thane and Kalyan, after they were stranded for hours following breakdown of pantographs of a Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-bound train at 6.30 AM near Thakurli station.
The protesters also set on fire at least three vehicles, including a police jeep, a Thane civic official said.
Three pantographs of a CST-bound train from Badlapur got damaged and the train came to a standstill with huge sparks.
Soon after, another Kalyan-CST train also experienced similar technical failure. Thus, the entire slow line towards CST crumbled in the morning peak hours. Even the fast train services got affected as trains were diverted.
At around 9.15 AM, commuters staged a rail roko at Diva station and they came on tracks in huge numbers. Many were seen walking on tracks towards Dombivili station.
The ticket window at Dombivili station on Central line was broken, and automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) were thrown on tracks.
Police cane-charged the protestors gathered on the tracks.
“The commuters occupied all four lines between Diva and Mumbra since 8.30 AM. We are not able to operate the services because of it. There was power supply problem in morning but it was restored,” a railway official said.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said Fadnavis has asked Patil to visit Thane and ascertain the situation.
“Prabhu has spoken to railway officials. The CM has spoken to police officials,” Bhandari said.
“Fadnavis has instructed officials not to use force or cane charge and help restore normalcy,” he said.
Following the violent protests, the motormen on Harbour and Central line called for a strike, bringing Mumbai’s lifeline to a halt.
“As these protests turned ugly, some motormen too got injured. Following this, motormen across the Central and Harbour lines decided to go on a strike. However, after an assurance from senior railway authorities, the strike has been called off,” a railway PRO told PTI.
In the wake of the disruptions, MOS for Home Ranjit Patil has been asked to immediately ensure that law and order is maintained, Fadnavis said.
“Discussed the matter with Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. We will look into the reasons of disruption and work on corrective course for future,” he said.
State minister Vinod Tawde instructed the Collector of suburbs to personally monitor the situation and asked BEST to run more buses on the affected routes.