Such is the demand for tickets that the Central Railway (CR) authorities have been forced to add more coaches to the existing long distance train to Guwahati. The recent riots have inspired fear of a backlash among people from Northeastern states who have made Mumbai their home.
A similar flight has been noted from Pune, Nasik and Bangalore. Other railways are also adding coaches to their trains due to the sudden exodus. The Guwahati-bound train leaving from Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) today has been fitted with an additional coach. Sources in CR revealed that the coach has 72 seats.
Usually, booking for seats in this train increase by several hundreds during the month of Ramzan, but authorities claim that the demand this time is unprecedented.
There was a wait list of 1,000 in the sleeper coach of the train, and a wait list of nearly 100 in the third class AC compartment last evening.
“The wait list for August 17 is quite long, and we know that one coach won’t suffice. But we are trying to accommodate as many people as possible,” said a CR official.
The railway authorities will also add a coach with 72 seats in the next journey made by the Kurla LTT-Guwahati Express.
Some officials however contended that it would be erroneous to term the phenomenon as an exodus, as it is this time of the year that people from the labour classes who work in the handloom and cotton industries travel to their hometowns for Ramzan.
Many residents of West Bengal and Bihar also take this train to reach their homes, and it is not necessarily locals of Assam who are trying to book tickets, said a CR official. “One general second class coach has been added for clearance of extra rush,” said VA Malegaonkar, chief PRO, CR.
Read ‘Dear Assamese friends, do not leave Bangalore: Muslims’ on Page 20