Tired of the railway authorities’ inaction and lack of enforcement of rules, a group of handicapped passengers have decided to take matters into their own hands in order to combat the nuisance of unauthorised passengers travelling in reserved coaches. The group has begun inspecting the medical certificates of all those who travel in the reserved coaches.
Members of the Disability Advocacy Group (DAG) have stepped up and caught over 100 passengers who were travelling in the reserved compartments with fake medical certificates. Jitendra Karelia, president of DAG, said, “For a long time, we have been noticing that there are many passengers who board the reserved coaches even when they are not actually handicapped. We have also noticed that there are people who board our coaches and do not present their certificates when asked.”
Karelia said that he once caught a bus conductor travelling in the reserved coach claiming to be a member of the Mumbai police. “When I asked to see his identity card, he couldn’t show it and after investigating, we found that he was a bus conductor. We also caught a passenger who had been travelling in the reserved coach for the last six years with a hospital discharge card stating that he had been admitted for just two days.”
The number of special coaches in a local train depends on the total number of coaches in it. For 12-car trains, there are three reserved coaches, while 15-car trains have four reserved coaches. While these coaches are open to all the genders, passengers require a valid certificate of disability to board the compartment.
However, if RPF officials are to be believed, over 2,000 cases of unauthorised passengers travelling in reserved coaches are registered every month. Mahim Swamy, chief security commissioner, Western Railways, said, “We keep checking passengers in reserved coaches and catch 70-80 unauthorised passengers every day.”
Sunil Chimulkar, another DAG member, said, “This was not an easy task for us. Passengers treated us with suspicion and resisted when we asked to see their certificates, saying we were not authorised to do so. However, many sympathetic passengers have helped us as they too want unauthorised passengers out of the coach.”
V Chandrasekhar, PRO, Central Railways, said, “We were not aware of members of the disability group checking the medical certificates themselves. We will issue appropriate instructions to ticket checking staff and RPF in this regard.”
What the rulebooks say
Handicapped passengers travelling in reserved coaches should carry genuine certificates detailing their disability, which they should show to the concerned authority if demanded. Certificates should be issued by the chief medical officer of the concerned district or any other medical officer as appointed by the state government in official gazette/notification for a particular jurisdiction.