A day after self-styled godman Asaram was arrested in Indore on Saturday by the Jodhpur Police, Mumbai bore the brunt of the ensuing protests. Several of his followers took to the roads, stalling traffic, and also laid siege to the railway tracks, throwing train services out of gear.
Protesting against the arrest, one group of loyalists staged a ‘rail roko’ at Ulhasnagar railway station, while another blocked traffic on the arterial Sion-Kurla road and also halted trains at Sion railway station.
Rail services on Central Railway (CR) were disrupted for an hour, leaving commuters seething after their travel plans were affected. Several trains had to be cancelled while others were running late. Platforms on many stations began to swell up due to the delays. Moreover, the CR mega block scheduled for yesterday added to the commuters’ woes.
AK Singh, CR spokesperson, said, “The protesters took to the tracks at Ulhasnagar at 12.55 pm and services were restored at 1.37 pm. A similar protest was held at Sion from 15.10 to 15.19 pm ”
Traffic at Sion junction came to a standstill after Asaram’s supporters protested with a sit-down at the junction, demanding his release. Protesters occupied the roads from 2.10 pm to 3 pm and the State Reserve Police Force and local police were pressed into action. Traffic came to a halt for over an hour, leaving motorists fuming. Incoming traffic from Thane was diverted to the Eastern Freeway while motorists coming from LBS Marg were diverted to Kurla. The supporters then proceeded to Sion railway station where they protested for a couple of minutes.
Commuter Hetal Gangara said, “I think the protest is absurd. They cannot achieve anything by agitating. Some trains were cancelled but the protest did not help the situation at all.”
Belapur resident Neelam Masadkar said, “I was heading towards Thane when the train came to a halt near Ulhasnagar. A mob sat on the tracks demanding the release of Asaram. The train halted for almost an hour.”
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