Mumbai, Mar 20: Mumbai came to a halt for 4 hours during the peak office time on Tuesday as thousands of students blocked Railway tracks, stalling the Maximum City’s lifeline – the local trains. Over 1,000 railway apprentice students carried out a ‘rail roko’ protest between Matunga Road and Dadar Station on the Central Line track for close to four hours this morning, crippling the services between Khopoli and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) stations. The police cleared the tracks at around 10:45 am today. Also Read - AirAsia Announces Flights on Mumbai-Guwahati, Mumbai-Srinagar Routes From Tomorrow | All You Need to Know
It was at 7 am that over 500 students gathered at the railway track on the Central Line between Matunga Road and Dadar stations and stopped a local train. Within an hour, the police reached the spot and tried to remove them but to no avail as the number of protesters kept growing. Also Read - Smart City Index 2020: Indian Cities Drop in Global Smart City Index; Singapore On Top
The protesters were students under the Railway apprentice program undergoing skill training. The protesters were demanding assurance that they will be given jobs in the railways. They also accused the police of having lathicharged them. “Was in continuous touch with officials. No rules have changed, 20% seats are reserved for apprentices but they are demanding more. Lathicharge was done after agitators started pelting stones, no one was injured,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in State Assembly while speaking on the situation. Also Read - 'What Did He Gain By Sharing a Satirical Cartoon on Uddhav Thackeray,' Shiv Sena Launches a Scathing Attack on Navy Veteran Madan Sharma
Road Traffic, Dabbawala Service Affected
Not just rail traffic, the protests took a toll on Mumbai’s road traffic as well as dabbawala service too. With the rail traffic on Central Line, the busiest local route of Mumbai, remained affected for hours together, commuters took to roads to reach their offices, examination centres and other places.
What made it worse was the continuing strike by Ola and Uber drivers. The strike that began on Monday, continued on Tuesday as well even as it was comparatively less effective. Commuters complained of cab aggregators charging exorbitant prices and taking advantage of the situation. The BEST on the other hand decided to ply more buses between Dadar and Kurla as trains were not running between these two stations for 4 hours.
With SSC students stuck on trains, the education department stated that students will be allowed to enter examination hall with maximum delay of an hour for exams to begin at 10 am and 2 pm today. Meanwhile, the Dabbawala association said that tiffin boxes may reach late by 2 hours today.
The protest ended at 10:45 am when police removed the protesters from the tracks at Matunga Road station. “Recruitment in Railways is underway at a large scale. On directives of Supreme Court, Indian Railways has made a recruitment policy that is unbiased & transparent,” Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal said. “Agitators have called off their protest and further discussions will be held,” he added.