Angry over the cancellation of the 9.10 am Churchgate-bound train, thousands of commuters at Borivli blocked rail tracks disrupting suburban services for nearly five hours leading to a complete chaos on Wednesday.
According to the railway police, there was a mob of around 2,000 people protesting, halting trains, including long distance one.
They went on the rampage, shouting slogans pelted stones on trains and policemen.
The situation went out of control as politicians added fuel to the fire by their speeches and media bytes at the station. The police lathicharged the gathered commuters-turned-protestors to disperse them and to bring back normalcy.
Railway officials said the services on Western Railway had been delayed since Wednesday morning due to a signal failure at Malad between 6.45 am and 8 am copper cables connected to the signal were stolen.
This led to the cancellation of the 9.10 am Borivli-Churchgate local.
Angry over the cancellation of the peak-hour local, commuters gheraoed the stationmaster’s office. When he expressed helplessness, they jumped on to the tracks and stopped the trains from plying.
One protest led to another.
Commuters also protested against the newly built platforms 7 and 8 at Borivli, which are away from the main station. There were voices against the “preferential treatment” to Virar commuters.
“Every other train is a Virar local and those commuters do not allow us to get in the trains. The railways are not thinking about Borivli passengers. The new platforms built at Borivli are so far that by the time you reach there, the train leaves,” said Arvind Gupta, a commuter.
The railways said they are chalking out a plan to give access to platform 8 from the road over bridge at the Churchgate-end of the station. “The number of services from Borivli is 481 — the highest compared to the Borivli-Virar sector which has only 402 trains,” said S.S. Gupta, Western Railway’s chief spokesperson.
Nearly 30 people, including 15 women, were arrested and charged for rioting and destruction of railway property. “They have been booked for rioting under various non-bailable sections of Indian Penal Code. We have also charged them under provisions of Railway Act for stopping a running train (section 151) and for stone pelting and damaging railway property (section 174). The amounts to five years imprisonment,” said Ashok Sharma, GRP commissioner.
After nearly four and a half hours, train services were restored at 1.45 pm. During the agitation, services between Churchgate and Goregaon and about 80 suburban trains were cancelled.