At CST, 3,000 protesters delay trains
Around 4.40 pm on Wednesday, CST was taken by surprise when some 3,000 widows, farmers and physically challenged people, under the banner Prahar Apang Kranti Andolan, got onto three railway lines for more than 15 minutes, throwing trains off schedule.
The protesters, from various parts of Maharashtra, were demanding grants promised to them by the government in February.
According to them, the government had promised financial help and a hike in pension for the physically challenged and the needy.
MLA Bachchu Kadu led the people hailing from places like Nagpur, Pune, Pen and Solapur. Kadu claims to have gone from village to village, preparing for the protest.
Ashok Gangrude (35), a resident of Nashik, said, “My brother is handicapped, and hence I have come with him for this protest. In February, the government had approved financial help for the physically challenged in the state. But seven months have passed, and we still have not received any such help. That’s why we protested today and we will not leave until our demands are met.”
Gangrude, along with his brother, and many others from their village arrived at CST early in the morning yesterday. The protesters are ready to wait back at the station for as many days as it takes to get a proper response from the authorities. Kadu, who was present with the protesters at the station, said, “The chief minister has agreed to meet us on Thursday at 4 pm. We will then put forward our demands to him, and once we get a fitting reply, we will head back to our villages. Until then, we will continue to protest.”
A K Singh, spokesperson for Central Railway, said, “Due to the protesters agitating on the railway tracks from 4.40 pm to 4.57 pm, four train services were cancelled and 15 were delayed by 10 to 15 minutes.”
Dilip Parit (41), a resident of Sangli, said, “I arrived early this morning. I’m physically challenged and unemployed. We were promised a certain amount of money, but we still have not received it. We have all come with adequate change of clothes and are ready to stay at the station for as long as we have to.”
Rajendra Rathod (29), a resident of Vagoli said, “Even though I have a job, just like other physically challenged persons, we are not paid like the rest, and are also not treated well. We have come to protest this inequality by the government.”