Police opened fire in the air and lobbed six tear-gas shells at Nallasopara to disperse the mob of commuters protesting against the collapse of suburban services on Western Railway for two consecutive days.
At 7 am on Tuesday, overhead wires between Borivli and Dahisar broke down leading to a temporary suspension of services during peak hours.
Rahul Kamat, a resident of Vasai who reached the station at 7.30am said, “I was waiting for a train for over 45 minutes, but there were no services. I finally managed to reach my office at Belapur at 12.30 pm instead of 9.30 am.”
Asif, a college student said, “The delays have become a regular feature of WR.”
As authorities began repair work to fix the cables, the slow line was completely blocked, leading to hundreds of commuters being stranded at Mira Road station, Vasai, Bhayander and Nallasopara.
By 10.30pm, the situation at Nallasopara got out of control with people jumping down on tracks and damaging food stalls.
The mob also lobbed stones on passing trains and tossed metal cement carriers used by workers onto the tracks.
Four policemen were injured in the protest and railway property, including ticket vending machines, worth Rs 5 lakh were damaged at Nallasopara.
Western Railway has suspended two electrical engineers and ordered an intensive check of overhead wires on the line.
The Railway Police Force had to resort to lathi charge to control the crowd and prevent further damage.
By 12 pm, WR had sorted out the problem and trains slowly began to run with delay of 15-20 minutes.
However, the situation continued to worsen at Nallasopara and police had to lob tear gas shells and it was only after 2 pm that train services began at their normal pace.
Cabbies and autos fleece commuters
With the lifeline of Mumbai down during the morning hours, private taxi drivers were in demand leading to sky high rates being charged for nominal distances.
A trip between Borivli and Nallasopara costed an unbelievable Rs 800.
Passengers who had to resort to road transport said that the private taxis were fleecing passengers.
“Its good that the problem with trains has occurred during the day, else during peak hours in the evening, these drivers would have charged a tariff of not less than Rs 1,500,” said a passenger who accompanied this reporter from Borivali.
Roads between Vasai and Nallasopara were choked as most of the railway traffic used buses, autos and cabs to reach their destinations.