The Virar railway station saw high-voltage drama on Wednesday night. Railway Protection Force (RPF) officers boarded the newly-introduced Churchgate-Dahanu local and arrested 14 Palghar commuters for allegedly not letting Virar and Vasai-bound passengers deboard the train and causing commotion. However, the Palghar commuters alleged that the cops manhandled them which resulted in one person falling unconscious at the station.
The matter began with Western Railways (WR) changing the schedule of Saurashtra Mail from 1 October and giving it a superfast status. This caused inconvenience to Palghar and Dahanu commuters, who relied on that train to reach home. On their demand, the WR introduced the Churchgate-Dahanu local on the Saurashtra Mail’s old schedule. But the trouble of Palghar commuters didn’t end there as Virar passengers, for whom trains are available at regular schedules, began boarding this train. The latter also didn’t let Palghar commuters in as they stood on the footboard of the train doors.
People travelling to Palghar then began retaliating by stopping Virar passengers from disembarking the train at their station and only letting them alight at the next station, Vaitarna. When this happened on Monday, few of the Virar commuters reported the matter to RPF. The railway cops stood at platform no. 3 of Virar station at 9.50pm on Wednesday to take a stock of the situation.
After the Virar passengers got off the train, the cops boarded it and allegedly manhandled the Palghar and Dahanu commuters. Also, just before the train could leave the station, someone pulled the chain making it halt longer. The local was stuck at the station for around an hour.
The 14 commuetrs were booked under Sections 145B (causing commotion) 141(chain pulling) and 146 (stopping a government official from performing his duty) of the Railway Act,1989. They were released on bail after produced before the Vasai Railway Court on Thursday,said PSI Yadav.
“For a good one hour, the local was stranded at the station and during this time the RPF officers stormed into the coach and dragged the Palghar commuters out in the name of investigation,” said Nikhil Dixit, 22, one.of the accused in the case who studies in a college in Goregaon. “I was dragged out of the coach by RPF cops despite the fact that I was just standing in the coach and was eager to reach home.”
Dixit went on to say that a commuter — Manoj Vartak — was rendered unconscious as he was also allegedly dragged out of the train by the cops roughly and was lying at the platform. He regained conscious a little while later.
“The people, who have been booked, all belong to Palghar and we are upset for being targeted by the RPF,” said Darshan Vaishya, another accused. The Palghar commuters said they are worried that after Wednesday’s incident they fear that Virar commuters will be in high spirits and will continue to harass the Palghar and Dahanu commuters.
“We tried to reason with and pacify the commuters as the we had only gone to take action on the complaint received. He later added that the scuffle ensued when the Palghar commuters stopped us from doing our job.” said PSI SS Yadav, RPF, Virar while denying any lathi charge allegations.