An on-duty railway engineer suffered an injury that required six stitches to his head following a scuffle with two RPF personnel at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus yesterday.
The two RPF men allegedly tried to snatch on-duty engineer Ameya Thatte’s phone when he was clicking photos of a goods coach that he suspected was overloaded
Around 5.50 am, the Central Railway engineer, Ameya Thatte (44), was inspecting the goods coach of Gitanjali Express for overloading and was clicking photos of the coach with his cellphone to be used as evidence.
CR officials meet the protesters at CST to defuse the situation
Seeing Thatte take photos, two Railway Protection Force (RPF) staffers approached him and tried to snatch the phone, and meanwhile, Thatte claimed that he saw blood on his shirt. The two RPF staffers have been chargesheeted in the incident.
“Ajay Thatte was talking to the RPF officials when he was attacked. If I am talking to RPF officers and if I am attacked, I will obviously suspect the RPF. Why would anyone else attack the engineer when he was talking to RPF officials? Our prime suspect is the RPF,” said V Solanki, Divisional Chairman, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh.
“I was inspecting the coach in which goods are loaded, suspected that it was overloaded and so was clicking photos of it with my cellphone,” Thatte told mid-day. He was inspecting the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Howrah Gitanjali Express that was to depart at 6 am from platform 18.
He found that even five minutes before the scheduled departure, goods were being loaded and he was clicking photos as proof of this as well. As per procedure, the door of the luggage coach is supposed to be locked 10 minutes prior to departure.
Sources said that as per internal practices, the safety engineers save these photographs and create a record so that in the event of any untoward incident, these can be used as evidence. “If the goods loaded inside the coach exceed the prescribed 4-tonne limit, it becomes unsafe for the running of the train.
This is what we inspect,” explained an engineer. This is when two RPF cops, one in uniform and the other in plain clothes, came and began asking Thatte why he was clicking the photographs. “I was with the defence forces earlier and joined the Railways in 2012.
I told the RPF that I was on duty and was doing my job,” said Thatte. The cops still didn’t budge, however, and they tried to snatch his phone. Sources said that there were loud arguments as the RPF staffers were insistent on taking his phone.
Thatte, on the other hand, insisted that he should be allowed to do his job and any inquiry could be done at the police station after that. There weren’t too many passengers around when this argument was taking place.
Suddenly, something struck him on his head. “I realised this when blood started oozing onto my shirt. Something hit me, but I didn’t understand what,” added Thatte. He suffered a gash on his head and received six stitches at the St George hospital.
One of the CCTV cameras at the platform showed Thatte walking towards the exit. “We are checking all CCTV cameras to find out exactly what happened. The two staffers have been chargesheeted and we are inquiring into it,” said S Bhalode, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner (Mumbai), Central Railway.
Meanwhile, other engineers reached the spot and began to protest against the ‘attack’. CR officials said it was unclear how Thatte got injured and, thus, the RPF wasn’t initially taking a formal complaint. For nearly an hour, engineers and later unions protested at the platform asking for a proper complaint to be registered.
Gitanjali Express was delayed by 18 minutes and the Nagercoil Express ran almost an hour and a half late due to the protests. Senior railway officials went to the spot and the situation was defused by 7.15 am.