As NCP and Shiv Sena fight for credit for providing free bus rides home for Mumbra locals, the residents observing Ramzan, keen to reach home in time for iftaar, are certainly not complaining
Mumbra locals queue up for NCP's free bus service locals outside the station. PIC/DATTA KUMBHAR
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena are trying to one up each other, and in this fight, those going home laughing are Mumbra residents. Both parties are trying to win voters by claiming credit for starting free evening bus rides for the area's locals, but what matters to the people is finally being able to reach home in time for iftaar, with a majority in the Muslim-dominated suburb observing Ramzan.
Mumbra having a majority of Muslims, most locals rush back home in the evening during Ramzan to be able to reach in time for iftaar. But the lack of autorickshaws outside the station had been posing a problem.
After many residents complained about the issue of commute from Mumbra station to Kausa and nearby areas after 6 pm, five years ago, NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad started a free evening bus service for the locals during Ramzan.
The Shiv Sena and the NCP are in a tug-of-war to emerge as the heroes who started free evening bus rides for Mumbra locals during Ramzan, to enable residents to reach home in time for iftaar.
Can't get auto
Abdul Munaf Mithalkar (48), a resident who has been organising iftaar for commuters reaching late at the railway station for the last 17 years, said, "The thing is that most of the autorickshaw drivers here are Muslim. And so, after 6 pm, a majority themselves rush back home for iftaar. Hence, getting an auto in the evening is an uphill task for the locals."
"This Ramzan, a few friends told me about the free buses not being available at the station for the first couple of days," he added. And that's the window the Sena jumped through.
Mithalkar, who is well acquainted with Haji Arfat Shaikh of the Vahatuk Sena, Sena's transport wing, told him about buses not being available, and within no time, the party arranged for five buses to ferry locals home.
"My aim was to help the public. So, I used my source to work out a solution. The buses ply between the station and Bharat Gear locality, ferrying nearly 70 people each time," added Mithalkar, saying the buses start at 6.15 pm or 6.25 pm, with one every 10 minutes till 7.10 pm.
Threatened to stop
Haji arranged the buses from Dalvi Travels based in Mumbra; on June 5, the party started the service with much pomp, bringing in MP Shrikant Shinde for the inauguration. However, within two days, Dalvi bailed on the Sainiks, saying he had been threatened to stop the service.
"After we started the bus service, the NCP started theirs the very next day. Dalvi gave us a couple of days to look for another travel agency as he had started receiving threats, with people arriving at his doorstep and asking him to stop it. So, he backed out, saying he didn't want to get in the middle of any political fight and wanted to run his business smoothly," said president of Mumbra Vahatuk Sena Imtiyaz Shaikh.
"Haji once again stepped in to help; he arranged for buses from a Thane-based travel operator. Now, the service is running smoothly. We asked Dalvi who had threatened him, but he refused to speak up. It can only be one party… no local will do this as the service is for their benefit. We intimated the police to look into the threats and keep an eye out."
'Getting an autorickshaw outside Mumbra station during Ramzan is difficult. Hence, such facilities are helpful for us. We are thankful to the organisers for being considerate of our needs'
Mohammed Bashir Siddique
'For the last many years, no matter when I would leave from work, I would end up breaking the fast en route, never managing to reach home on time. These buses are a huge boon'
'We are happy about the bus service; it helps us reach home on time. We would have willingly paid for the ride home too. In a crowded area like Mumbra, such facilities are needed for the locals' convenience'
70 Average number of people ferried per bus ride
10 Time gap (in mins) between the arrival of two buses
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