The Thane government railway police (GRP) have registered a case against around 12,000 people for rioting and damaging government and railway property, after the Central Railway sustained losses of Rs 18 lakh because of protests by commuters.
The Mumbra police have also arrested around 18 people for stone-pelting and vandalising public property. The police claim the extent of damage suggests commuters were joined by local mischief-makers, and are scanning footage from CCTV cameras at Diva station to trace the culprits.
“If people have any recordings of the violence, we appeal to them to share them with us. We suspect goons were involved in damaging property and in burning vehicles.,” said VV Lakshminarayan, joint commissioner of police, Thane.
The Kalyan and Dombivli GRP also registered cases against unidentified men. Two police vans belonging to the Thane GRP one of the Mumbra police station were set ablaze outside Diva railway station, while two vans were vandalised by people pelting stones.
Meanwhile, the damage is not limited to the railways and police alone. When the Mumbra police caught a man who had smashed a motorman’s cabin glass, they found a hammer and a pomphret in his bag. “He told us he and other people had stolen the fish left behind by vendors,” said a Mumbra police officer.
While NCP leader Jitendra Awhad has said he will demand a judicial inquiry into the lathi charge by the police on the agitating commuters, residents said the violence was begun by a local.
Around 8.30am, commuters were sitting on the tracks, when a leader of an auto rickshaw union snatched lathis from policemen and beat them up, trying to get the tracks cleared. This sparked off the violence, which the police had to use lathi charge to control, said residents.