An attempt by NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad and his supporters to stage a rail roko (rail block) at the suburban Kalwa station in neighbouring Thane district during peak office hours this morning was foiled by the railway security personnel, a senior official said. Awhad had given a call for agitation, which he dubbed as the 'mother of all protests', at Kalwa station today to protest against the "casual approach" of railway authorities towards the safety of suburban commuters after the stampede on the foot overbridge of Elphinstone Road station on Friday which killed 23 passengers. "Elaborate security arrangements were put in place which prevented the protesters from stopping the trains, however, they held up a 9.22 am local at Kalwa station," said a senior Central Railway official.

Rail roko
A rail Roko that was carried out at Badlapur. File photo

He said the train was held up for a few minutes, before the jawans of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railway Police and city police dispersed the protesters from the premises. The official added that there was no major impact on the train schedule. Justifying his rail roko call, Awhad, a NCP legislator from the Mumbra-Kalwa belt, said, "Despite several reminders, railway administration has turned a deaf ear to the commuters woes and rising fatalities and hardships were due to the failure of the Central Railway administration to cater to rush hour crowd."

The NCP MLA said, "Over 20,000 innocent passengers have lost their lives in last five years because of the poor infrastructure of the Central and Western Railways. "Over 3,000 innocent passengers have lost their lives
only in Thane-Kalwa section which is also known as a killer stretch. I want to know what Railways is doing to save the precious lives of the passengers." Awhad said, "We don't believe in the tall promises made and fake assurances given by the Railway Ministers." He also slammed the Bullet Train project saying such a train was introduced just to "show-off" to the world at the cost of the lives of thousands of passengers who die for want of basis amenities.

Meanwhile, railway activists slammed the protesters for "aggravating" the woes of commuters by holding up the local trains during peak office hour rush. Subhash Gupta, president of the Rail Yatri Sangh Mumbai and member of National Railway Users Consultative Committee (NRUCC) said, "It is extremely unfortunate that these leaders are aggravating the woes of the passengers to push their political agenda. Railway administration should book these protesters to prevent such incidents in future." When contacted a senior railway official said "We will be booking the protestors as per the provisions of law."

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