Loose motions, mental illness: Passengers' excuses for travelling in coach for disabled on Mumbai local

Updated: Jan 25, 2020, 07:41 IST | Vishal Singh | Mumbai

Among the 48,000 penalised in last three years are those who cited stomach ache, loose motions, mental illness, and much more.

Those who are caught by the law enforcers are produced before a court that slaps them with a fine or sometimes with unique punishments. Illustration/ Uday Mohite
Those who are caught by the law enforcers are produced before a court that slaps them with a fine or sometimes with unique punishments. Illustration/ Uday Mohite

From loosies to sprained legs, and from childhood surgeries to mental imbalance, RPF personnel have heard it all when it comes to creative reasons by passengers who travel illegally in compartments reserved for the specially abled. Despite a constant crackdown on them, there has been a steep rise in the number of unauthorised passengers travelling in this compartment.

The RPF has fined 49,046 passengers travelling in the Divyangjan compartment in the past three years, on Central Railway. The compartment is reserved for specially-abled people and women in advanced stage of pregnancy.

In 2018, the RPF registered 16,459 cases, which escalated to 18,314 in 2019. An RPF officer said in 2017 they had registered 14,237 cases related to people travelling in this compartment of local trains in Mumbai.

There has been a steep rise in unauthorised passengers taking reserved compartments. File pic
There has been a steep rise in unauthorised passengers taking reserved compartments. File pic

'A new excuse everyday'
The funny part, an RPF officer said, is the excuses made by the passengers apprehended under Section 155 of the Railways Act. "Everyday we have to listen to a new excuse made by the passengers. Some of them say their stomach is upset while others say there is a sprain in the leg. A few of them even went to the extent of saying they had to give home cooked food to their parents admitted to nearby hospitals. However, none of them was carrying a tiffin box," said the officer.
Those who are caught by the law enforcers are produced before a court that slaps them with a fine or sometimes with unique punishments. However, those who cannot pay the fine are sent to one or two days judicial custody.

'First time' excuse
Several passengers defend themselves saying it is the "first time" that they have boarded the compartment reserved for the disabled and others claim to be new to the city. "Everyone is not aware about the reserved coach in locals. Those who visit the city for the first time, cannot board a packed train. Hence, they are likely to board the compartment with less crowd. But we cannot pardon them for committing an offence under the Railways Act," the officer said. Some violators try to convince the RPF officer that as the general compartment was overcrowded, they boarded the compartment reserved for specially abled people. "This excuse is very common these days whenever we catch violators during rush hour. They say since they had to reach office on time they boarded the reserved compartment or else the late arrival in their offices will cause a salary cut at the end of the month," the officer added.

Fever is another 'reason'
Another officer said, "It is really hilarious when the violators say 'mere pair me rod laga hai' (a rod has been implanted in my leg). The implant of a rod does not make them eligible to travel in the handicapped compartment. Others claim 'that they boarded the reserved compartment at the previous station and were about to get down'," said the officer who told mid-day that a few others claim they have fever. "Sometimes we check their temperature using thermometers and it is normal. High body temperature is just another hilarious excuse when they are hale and hearty. People make a number of silly excuses and are not willing to confess to the crime when caught. But they are bound to pay fine to the court," he added.

Stooping low
One of the violators caught by RPF Ghatkopar had told an officer that 'he boarded the reserved compartment due to his mental imbalance. "His mental condition suggested he board the reserved compartment and not the general one. How low can a violator stoop to justify their wrong doing?" said the officer. The senior Divisional Security Commissioner (DSC) (Central Railway) Ashraf K told mid-day, "All such violators are produced before a court that slaps them with a fine. Those who cannot pay the fine are imprisoned. As part of punishment, the violators are asked to wait inside the court premises until the day gets over."

"If the violators are government employees, we alert their offices or bosses, so that they may not repeat the same offence in future," Ashraf added.

Rising figures

2017: 14,237 : No. of cases R39,26,966 : Fine imposed by court
10 : people jailed
2018: 16,459 : No. of cases R37,62,815: Fine imposed by court
2: people jailed
2019: 18,314 : No. of cases
Rs 44,95,232: Fine imposed by court
3: people jailed

Why I boarded a handicapped compartment...

. Since I am having loose motions, I will have to get off the train in an emergency. I will soil my pants if I travel in the packed compartment
. I am new to Mumbai, I did not know about the reserved compartment
. There is a sprain in my leg
. My hand was fractured, just removed the plaster a few days ago
. I took laxatives, the general compartment was overcrowded
. My father is admitted, I am taking food for him
. I did not know that travelling in the Divyangjan compartment is a crime
. There is an iron rod in my leg
. Had a leg operation in childhood
. I have fever

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