Passengers blocking railway tracks at Diva station during a protest. Representational Pic
Commuters beware! The next time you decide to carry out a protest on the tracks, you might just land up behind bars for one year. Senior officials have confirmed that Central Railway (CR) has approached the state government to allow them to slap Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968 (ESMA) against protesters, blocking railway services.
“There is a need to slap ESMA against such protesters and miscreants who prevent smooth running of train services. We will be proposing it to the state government and requesting them to make it applicable under these circumstances,” said a senior CR official.
The Act is intended to provide for the maintenance of certain essential services and the normal life of the community. If slapped with ESMA, a person can face imprisonment for a term of up to one year, and a fine of Rs 1,000, or both.
The move comes hours after people spilled onto the tracks at Diva station to protest train delays. Last night, after a Vasai Road-Diva train that was expected to reach Diva at 8 pm, was delayed by an hour, commuters decided to come on the tracks. “The delay was due to a signal problem at Kaman Road,” said AK Singh, spokesperson, CR.
According to officials, the protesting passengers stalled both Up (towards CST) and Down (towards Kalyan) local trains.
The train finally left at 9.15 pm after the railway police force and city police arrived at the spot.