Mumbai: Suburban local train services were severely affected in Mumbai on Tuesday as thousands of railway job aspirants blocked the railway tracks between Matunga and Dadar stations during peak hours demanding immediate placement. Central Railway cancelled 60 local trains following the protest, that affected over 74 lakh commuters.
The protest was called off after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal gave a written assurance that the Railway Ministry will take a decision on their demand in the next two days. Railway services resumed after that.
The four lines between Matunga and CSMT were affected due to the protest. The police and Railways officials held talks with the agitating railway job aspirants. The students shouted slogans against the Railways holding placards and demanded a one-time settlement from GM quota. The Railways decided to run special trains for the Kurla station in the down direction and diverted railway traffic from Dadar station in the up direction.The students are seeking permanent jobs in Indian Railways.
They blocked the tracks during the morning rush hour, claiming they have cleared the railway apprentice exams but are yet to be given jobs. They said they are fighting for last three years and the railway administration is ignoring them. “There was no option but to halt the trains,” said a protester.
The protest lasted for three-and-a-half-hours. The police tried to disperse the protesters but they didn’t. Finally, the police had to carry out a lathi charge as the protesters started pelting stones at the railway police, injuring 11 police personnel. However, Railways officials say apprentices have to undergo mandatory training for a specified period before they are offered jobs as per the rules.
Meanwhile, the BEST deployed extra buses to ferry commuters to and from points like Dadar, Matunga, Kurla, Sion and other stations. The protests threw the entire suburban and long distance railway schedules in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Pune out of gear with commuters stranded for hours.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal appealed to the agitators to apply for the ongoing Railways recruitment drive, which will end on March 31. He said 20 per cent posts were reserved in keeping with the ‘various judgments pronounced by the Supreme Court from time to time and as per section 22(1) of the Apprentices Act’. These 20 per cent posts are reserved for ‘course completed act apprentices’ who were already engaged in railway establishment under the Apprenticeship Act.
The MNS had also extended their support to the protesters. MNS Chief Raj Thackeray said, “MNS will come with them to Delhi to meet the railway minister on this issue.”