Mumbai: For Western Railway, first class coach appears to be for 'men' only
As 'Gents First Class' signage come up at stations, activists point to 'patriarchal' mindset; as per Indian Railway regulations, 'gents' coaches do not exist.
In what can be termed as a goof-up on Western Railway (WR) stations, the compartment signage at a few prominent railway stations has termed first-class compartments as ‘Gents First Class’ instead of just First Class.
Sources said while the Ladies First Class signage is appropriate, the Gents First Class one is erroneous as there is no such compartment on the Mumbai suburban railway as per the ‘Class Code’ of Indian Railway regulations. The First Class in question can be used by everyone holding a valid first-class ticket or a pass, irrespective of their gender.
Activists have raised questions over the railways’ patriarchal mentality. "I was quite shocked by this board. There is nothing like ‘gents coach’ in Indian railways. But this signage at Mahim talks of a gents coach. This shows a patriarchal mentality. The gents coach mentioned here is actually the first-class general coach," said journalist Jatin Desai, who first saw the board.
mid-day visited Mahim railway station and found the boards on the Harbour Line platform and similar ones at Andheri station’s Harbour Line platform too.
Shailesh Goyal, a member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee of WR also blasted the railways saying they need to be careful about such official signage. "Mumbai suburban is a very crowded network and the railways should have a standard template, instead of anyone coming in and putting up any kind of signage," he said.
A woman commuter, Ashwini Gala, said the railways should not set new standards and call a general compartment a gents one. "Since when did a general compartment turn into a gents one? I do not think there is any need for that and such official signage will give unnecessary opportunities to unscrupulous elements to make arguments. These should be changed immediately," she added.
WR chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar said he will look into the matter, ask the staff to be careful and get the signage replaced immediately.
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