In what brought severe hardships to lakhs of commuters, around 500 students on Tuesday gathered on railway tracks in suburban Mumbai at about 6.45 AM. They blocked tracks and affected the movement of trains in the central railway zone, delaying around 50 suburban and express trains. The protest went on for almost four hours and was reportedly called off by students at around 10.35 am. As per reports, the students were lathi-charged as the rail-roko moment caused a jam at Mumbai’s rail-network.
As per a statement by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the students were demanding a 100 per cent reservation for apprentices, currently set at 20 per cent.
Reacting to the student’s protest, Central Railway released a statement and said there is no provision of giving jobs to the apprentices as per the Apprentice Act. Railways further clarified that law only lays out provisions of training for a specified period of time so that students can improve their skills and gain experience of having worked in the field. However, Ministry of Railways has taken a decision and reserved 20 percent of the seats filled through direct recruitment.
Taking note of the situation in Mumbai, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal called a press conference in New Delhi. Goyal said that he has urged them to join the ongoing recruitment drive that ends on March 31. The protests took place between the busy Matunga and Dadar stations, demanding jobs in the Indian Railways.
CM Fadnavis also made a statement in the Assembly. The Maharashtra chief minister said railways have increased the reservation for apprentices from 10 per cent to 20 per cent. “The youth are demanding 100 per cent reservation for apprentices in railway jobs. Railway administration has initiated talks with the protesters and a solution would be arrived at,” he said.
The issue of students’ protest in Mumbai was raised by Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. Speaking through a point of order before the Question Hour, Vikhe said that apprentices protested with a “chakka jaam” on Central Railway section for nearly four hours. Saying that commuters had to face hardships because of disruption of railway services, he said that Fadnavis and Maharashtra government should consider the hardships of the youth as well. Patil claimed that railway administration wasn’t forthcoming and did not make attempts to understand their demands. Instead, they were lathi-charged in which the youth were injured, he said.
Vikhe further added that Fadnavis government should have shown some sensitivity by talking to the Ministry of Railways. He added that Fadnavis government should have conveyed students demands to the Centre. “They were demanding jobs in railways, but railways have changed rules regarding recruitment of apprentices,” he claimed.